Professional orders denounce unqualified nurses diagnosing mental health disorders

By Reann Fournier, Special to The Record

In response to an article published in La Presse early this week, six professional orders published a press release on Sept. 15, 2020 denouncing the possibility that all specialized nurse practitioners (IPS) could diagnose mental health disorders, even those not specialized in the field.
The Order of Nurses of Quebec, the Professional Order of Sex Therapists of Quebec, the College of Physicians of Québec, the Order of Psychologists in Quebec, the Order of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists of Quebec as well as the Order of Guidance Counsellors of Quebec published a press release after an opinion piece in ‘La Presse’ discussed the suggestion that nurses lacking the schooling for a specialization in mental health wanted permission to diagnose mental health disorders in patients.
The release said that it is imperative from a public protection perspective that only certified professionals with the proper experience and training are permitted to assess and diagnose mental health disorders.
According to the release, this strong consensus among professionals is supported by the Act to Amend the Professional Code and other provisions of the Professional Code. Mental Health and Human Relations legislation was put in place on Sept. 20, 2012. This legislation refers to activities reserved for authorized professionals, conducting assessments related to mental health disorders being one of those things.
Also included in the release was the fact that the assessment of mental health disorders, including the communication of their findings, is a complex and high-risk activity and can significantly affect individuals’ lives. These types of assessments require in-depth analysis and a specific expertise and must only be carried out by professionals with the required training. As such, the six professional orders involved assure the public that only IPSSMs (nurse practitioners specialized in mental health) are able to diagnose mental health disorders and determine proper medical treatment.
It was also acknowledged that there has never been any question of prohibiting front-line IPS from ensuring that mental health problems are assessed and followed. IPS other than those specialized in mental health, by virtue of their assessment activity, are able to identify health problems that are likely to cause mental, emotional, or psychological disturbances, but these identifications are considered to be below diagnosis status, which are the sole responsibility of IPSSMs.

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