Adding on to our previous article on public psychotherapy, the RQSHA has further backed up our opinion with additional statistics: psychologists funded by RAMQ can improve suicide prevention, given that the majority of those who commit suicide suffer from mental health issues and fail to receive treatment (due to financial limitations). However, there is evidence to suggest that the psychotherapy program is severely underfunded and offers too few sessions.
Implementing this project has already presented itself with quite a few issues. Firstly, the goal was to fund 600 000 sessions with a budget of $35M. The problem? Sessions with experienced psychologists typically cost up to $200, given that they are in much greater demand by clients, and thus, would be overbooked - in which case, the quality of the sessions would suffer - if they charged less; for our purposes, let's take a conservative number of $140 per session. At $140, a $35M budget would only yield 250 000 sessions; in other words, the psychotherapy program is currently 350 000 sessions short.
If RAMQ decides to limit reimbursements to a lower amount than the session fees, that would give experienced psychologists 2 options. The first option is to accept the lower RAMQ fee at the cost of being overbooked, and thus, provide a lower quality of service to the clients; the other option is to completely opt out of the psychotherapy program, which leaves clients with no other option but to book their sessions with less experienced psychotherapists. Given that we value quality of service, we cannot - in good faith - see any way in which lowering the session fees are in the best interests of clients.
Secondly, the program only pays for one or two sessions in the majority of cases. This limits treatment to mere coping skills, as opposed to delving into the root causes of the issue; coping skills only address the symptoms of the issue, and not the cause. In other words, coping skills training is equivalent to a band-aid and not a primary means of - nor a permanent solution to - treating complex psychological issues like suicidal depression.
Every single problem mentioned above is fundamentally a lack of funding. One way to meet these spending goals would be through deficit spending, as this would give the RAMQ many years to find alternate sources of funding to balance the budget.
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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are not to be misinterpreted as medical, clinical, or any other professional advice. The views expressed are opinions and / or ideas founded on research and clinical experience. These views are meant to provoke awareness and inquiry into various issues, and thus, create an open-minded dialogue, civil discussion, and respectful debate among our readers. Any claims made are subject to change should new studies be conducted that disprove these claims.
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