To be honest, I’m not sure what training in mental health doctors receive in Canada. I am going to guess that it might be basic and the focus might be on diagnosis and referring. “It’s not my problem,” sort of thing. To take it on a tangent, I read Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal. He talks of how specialists / surgeons focus so much on what can be done, even in terrible terminal cases which will diminish quality of life. Doctors are uncomfortable with death, dying, trying to die though it is an inevitable phenomenon. Unfortunately mine is not an isolated case. I hear daily from clients how they receive little to no support regarding severe symptoms related to mental health or brain issues besides being prescribed pills. In the Canadian health system, therapy / ongoing mental health care isn’t covered by our universal healthcare. So many folks just end up with no support till they land in emergency!
Owing to long waitlists for non-urgent care, GPs are our first line of defense. Often people have long standing relationships with their GPs. A GP’s attitude may determine how a person views and accesses treatment. I see that in dementia care daily! I am not expecting much…a wee bit of empathy, encouragement and actually checking in. Skills training in counselling will go a long way. I know that doctors have to pass exams every few years to show that they have been up-to-date in their knowledge; may be they should also have a skills test, on the job? This is just me wishing for things I cannot have.
My GP is truly amazing. Just not in providing me with the support I need with regards to my emotional state.