A story submitted to the City of Brains Project by a woman in Toronto covers the complex, difficult journey of trying to get access to mental health help for OCD. It’s so frustrating that there are evidence-based treatments, very well-supported by research, but they’re not actually made available to people. As you can see in the story, healthcare professionals may have absolutely no clue about treatments for recovery or they may simply forget to send you a form you need to get care. The challenges captured in this story illustrate why we need to make changes to our mental healthcare systems and why we need to speak openly about these challenges so people know the problems exist. Here’s an excerpt:
A year after my initial visit to the walk-in clinic, I had quit my job, dropped out of a Masters program, and was hiding out in my parents’ house coming up with excuses for my very odd behaviours. I decided I had no other choice but to see a doctor and try meds even if they could make me worse. The doctor I saw immediately put me on meds and told me to find a psychologist and to not bother finding a psychiatrist as I needed therapy – this was poor info as I later discovered. But I did find a very knowledgeable psychologist who after many interviews was able to initially help me through CBT and Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) therapy. However, two months after our initial meet, I had a major set back and became very reclusive, mostly confined to a bed in my parents house for 6 months, with the exception of 2 visits to my doctor to get higher doses of meds prescribed. At this point my rituals were taking up at least 6 hours/day. My family was scared by how quickly my quality of life deteriorated and I felt worse knowing that in addition to having to care for me, I was causing a lot of problems (arguments) among them.
After 6 months of this, I decided it was time to act on a piece of info that my psychologist had told me at our initial meeting – that although there were no facilities in Canada to treat people with severe OCD, there were 2 mental hospitals in the US that provide inpatient care for them, and that this treatment was covered by OHIP. To make a long story short, in my last visit to my doctor (i.e. the second time I left the house in 6 months), I had brought the correct OHIP form to his office and he agreed the treatment I was seeking would be the best option. However, he forgot about my form, and the piece of research he needed to do was never done (i.e. to show that this level of treatment is not available in Canada, which would have been easy enough to prove with calls to CAMH and Sunnybrook Hospital) as I would later find out. I was not able to call him as the clinic would not pass along messages to doctors from patients, and he did not have a direct line. I couldn’t just drop by his clinic, I was too debilitated for that.
Check out the full, eye-opening story over on the City of Brains Project: http://www.cityofbrainsproject.com/cityofbrains/recovery-from-ocd-when-help-isnt-accessible-in-ontario/