Georgetown-St. Peters MLA Steven Myers accused the Island’s Health minister of failing to focus on suicide prevention programming for men on Tuesday.
During question period, Myers said a 2012 study from Statistics Canada found that Canadian men have a suicide rate of more than three times that of women. He also said that only a third of men who have committed suicide have sought help from health professionals.
"Statscan shows that the pattern of male suicide is a long-term pattern in this country,” Myers said.
"Why has government long ignored these facts on male mental health and suicides?"
Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell said the problem of mental illness and suicide has had a widespread impact on the Island.
"There wouldn't be a door that you could knock on that hasn't seen the effects of mental illness. We are doing our utmost best to develop programs, to develop medical situations for these folks," Mitchell said.
"Our youth programs, both the INSIGHT and the Strength programs, are making significant differences in the lives of young individuals and young males in a lot of cases."
The INSIGHT program is a mental health support program geared to youth aged 13-18 while the Strength program offers substance addiction support to individuals aged 15-24. Mitchell suggested these programs are part of $3 million the provincial government has invested in mental health programming this year.
Myers suggested the Island establish a men’s health secretariat, a public office that would aid in developing policy around men’s health.
A statement issued by Health P.E.I. said there were no specific programs that focused solely on men. However, the statement indicated that several programs implemented as a result of the government’s 2016 mental health strategy have had a measurable on reducing mental health stigma.
The statement referred specifically to mental health walk-in clinics introduced in Prince and Queens County.
“Of the clients who accessed mental health walk-in clinic services in Prince County between July 2016 and December 7, 2017, 70 per cent of those recorded were new clients – at least one third of those were men,” the Health P.E.I. statement said.
“Being able to seek help, without having to make an appointment, has been a contributing factor to Island men accessing care.”
P.E.I.’s suicide rate in 2016 was just under 10 people per 100,000 residents. The Island experienced 15 suicides that year.
Reported suicides in P.E.I.