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Juanna’s story

In 2014, Juanna had what she calls a meltdown. “I was working I took vacations. I led a very normal, everyday life.” But when she lost her job due to an error, it toppled her.

Unlike millions of Canadians, Juanna had a family doctor who referred her to a psychiatrist. It was June. The appointment was in October. Meanwhile, Juanna stopped making sense. “It was non-stop crying. I couldn’t even talk. I was afraid to leave the apartment.” Juanna went back to her doctor who sent her to the Emergency Department. The psychiatrist there said Juanna was severely depressed, but that she’d have to wait until October to see her own psychiatrist.

“So, finally October comes around, and all I do is cry for the whole session.” Things don’t get better right away. It takes three years before Juanna can venture out alone.

“It’s the waiting, the waiting, the waiting.” It’s haunting how she says it.

“If I had the money, I could have just paid for the treatment myself.” Canadians spend $950 million on counselling services each year; 30% of it out of pocket. 

“They say one in five of us have a mental illness. So why isn’t it being treated as a priority? If you break your arm, you just go to the Emergency, get your X ray, get your cast, get your therapy, and there you are. I think mental health should be a basic right.”

Juanna is 55 and lives in Halifax.

To learn more about the Canadian Mental Health Association’s campaign for Free Mental Health Care Now please visit

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