It’s 4:30 on a Friday afternoon at her Sherbrooke, Que., clinic and Marie Hayes takes a deep breath before opening the door to her final patient of the day, who has arrived without an appointment. The 32-year-old mother immediately lists her complaints: She feels dizzy. She has abdominal pain. “It is always physical and always catastrophic,” Dr. Hayes will later tell me. In the exam room, she runs through the standard checkup, pressing on the patient’s abdomen, recording her symptoms, just as she has done almost every week for months. “There’s something wrong with me,” the patient says, with a look of panic.
Dr. Hayes tries to reassure her, to no avail. In any case, the doctor has already reached her diagnosis: severe anxiety. Dr. Hayes prescribed medication during a previous visit, but the woman stopped taking it after two days because it made her nauseated and dizzy. She needs structured psychotherapy – a licensed therapist trained to bring her anxiety under control. But the wait list for public care is about a year, says Dr. Hayes, and the patient can’t afford the cost of private sessions.
Meanwhile, the woman is paying a steep personal price: At home, she says, she spends most days in bed… Dr. Hayes does her best, spending a full hour trying to calm her down, and the woman is less agitated when she leaves.
But the doctor knows she will be back next week.
So begins an article from The Globe asking a simple question: should we publicly fund psychotherapy? In this week’s Reading, “The case for publicly funded therapy,” Erin Anderssen argues yes.
Anderssen’s piece opened the The Globe and Mail’s excellent new series on mental health, which covers everything from the potential of technology to the search for biological markers. Continue reading