‘300 Days’

Wait times for men­tal health as­sis­tance in the CBRM not music to New Water­ford man’s ears

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY SHARON MONTGOMERY-DUPE CAPE BRE­TON POST

Long wait times for men­tal health as­sis­tance in Cape Bre­ton struck a chord with a New Water­ford man in more ways than one.

Rob Mur­phy was so shocked to dis­cover a per­son has a 354day wait to see a psy­chi­a­trist, psy­chol­o­gist or so­cial worker in the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, that a cou­ple months ago he picked up his gui­tar wrote a song about it, hop­ing to bring at­ten­tion to the sit­u­a­tion.

“It re­ally shocked me and I thought this has to be fixed,” said Mur­phy, a singer/song­writer. “In Hal­i­fax I think the wait is about 88 days and here it is 354.”

The song — “300 Days” — has been get­ting so much at­ten­tion that the Cana­dian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion is fea­tur­ing it on its web­site to pro­mote Men­tal Health month in May.

Mur­phy, an ac­count man­ager with Max FM 98.3 ra­dio, often writes songs about is­sues on his mind and wrote this song from the per­spec­tive of a young man whose girlfriend suf­fers from de­pres­sion, tries to get men­tal health as­sis­tance, but is turned away.

He said his song has re­ceived 100,000 hits so far on both Facebook and YouTube.

“I’ve re­ceived hun­dreds of mes­sages from peo­ple who lost loved ones or went through it,” he said. “It en­light­ened my life to hear their sto­ries.”

The song has had some ra­dio play and Mur­phy has given talks about it to Cape Bre­ton youth as well as at a re­cent doc­tor’s rally in Syd­ney Mines.

“I lost two friends in their early twen­ties in New Water­ford from sui­cide,” he said. “Ba­si­cally, this is not OK. As Cana­di­ans we are en­ti­tled to health care. When peo­ple are dy­ing for no rea­son some­one is not do­ing their job. It’s in­ex­cus­able.”

Mur­phy went through a rough patch him­self in deal­ing with per­sonal is­sues a few years ago, but the med­i­cal cov­er­age through his em­ployer at the time al­lowed him ac­cess to a so­cial worker within 24 hours.

How­ever, he said, with­out this cov­er­age a per­son is left with no sup­port, like the young man who re­cently died of a drug over­dose in New Water­ford.

Mur­phy said fol­low­ing that tragic death, he heard about the A Town That Cares group be­ing formed and sched­ul­ing a town hall for Tues­day, May 23, at the New Water­ford Fire hall at 6:30 p.m. to deal with this is­sue. Mur­phy will be open­ing the meet­ing with his song.

Greg Boone, spokesper­son with the Nova Sco­tia District Health Au­thor­ity, said the wait times for the Adult Men­tal Health and Ad­dic­tions Com­mu­nity clin­ics are also a con­cern for the au­thor­ity.

“We re­gret that peo­ple and their fam­i­lies in the com­mu­ni­ties of Syd­ney, Glace Bay, New Water­ford and North Syd­ney are wait­ing far too long for men­tal health and ad­dic­tions care and sup­port.”

Boone said they are work­ing on a plan to im­prove ac­cess to care and sup­port for those liv­ing with men­tal health dis­or­ders and/or harm­ful sub­stance use and their top pri­or­ity is im­prov­ing ac­cess in the Eastern Zone, which in­cludes Cape Bre­ton.

He said part of the plan is im­prov­ing the in­take process — to see peo­ple screened, as­sessed and matched to the right ser­vice provider, whether that be a men­tal health and ad­dic­tion clin­i­cian, psy­chi­a­trist or the proper com­mu­nity sup­port/re­sources.

He said the cur­rent wait time for ad­dic­tions in­pa­tient with­drawal man­age­ment care (detox) is less than a week. A toll-free pro­vin­cial men­tal health and ad­dic­tions cri­sis line can be as­sessed at 1-888429-8167, 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

He said any­one with an emer­gency men­tal health cri­sis needs to call 911 or go to the emer­gency room to be seen im­me­di­ately.

SHARON MONTGOMERY-DUPE/CAPE BRE­TON POST

Rob Mur­phy of New Water­ford stands on Plum­mer Av­enue with his gui­tar. Mur­phy, a singer/song­writer, was so shocked about the 354-day wait time for men­tal health as­sis­tance in the CBRM he wrote a song ‘300 Days’ a few months ago that is now be­ing pro­moted by the Cana­dian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion for Men­tal Health Month in May. Mur­phy will be open­ing the Town Hall meet­ing con­cern­ing the lack of re­sources for men­tal health and drug ad­dic­tion at the New Water­ford fire sta­tion Tues­day, May 23, at 6:30 p.m., with his song.

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