Group seeking mental health change

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Residents across the province are calling for a fundamental change in the mental health system with the help of some MLAs and a petition.

Locally, Robbie Weatherbee has been fighting for change for a couple of years after losing someone close to her to suicide.

“Every time I say it it’s still shocking, I still get emotional,” said Weatherbee about losing her family member. The loss Weatherbee suffered led her to the Facebook group “How Many NSHA IWK,” a group for Nova Scotians who are hoping for a reform of the system and sharing stories about their experiences with it. The name behind the group is how many more in Nova Scotia are going to die by suicide or suffer from the lack of health services they need to heal.

Currently, the Facebook group has 1,480 members and is continuously growing. Last March, members of the group where Weatherbee is a moderator launched a petition with a press conference in Government house to let everyone across the province know they are seeking change. The petition is calling for an inquiry into the hiring practices of the senior authorities of the mental health sector of the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

“We will be asking the legislature to hold the board accountable for the state our system is in,” said Weatherbee. “We don’t think they’re hiring the right people for the jobs because the system is getting worse, not better.”

Weatherbee added that the group is hoping people will come out and sign the petition. Although talking about mental health can be great, Weatherbee said they are hoping to make real change in the system and this takes action.

To sign the petition people can go to their local MLA offices before Feb. 28, or join the Facebook group.

“Part of the problem is mental health care is not being better funded,” she said. She went on to explain that only 6.3 per cent of the health budget goes toward mental health, meanwhile, 134 people died of suicide in 2017.

“I just need people to stop talking about it and do something,” said Weatherbee. She explained that wait times are a big issue with mental health services.

“When people are in a mental health crisis they need help now… it’s like someone having a heart attack, you can’t send them away for four months and tell them to come back.”

Robbie Weatherbee shows the petition for which she is helping collect signatures to help create better mental health care in Nova Scotia. (Brimicombe photo)