Friday, September 19, 2008

Mothers’ stories of mental illness


To read this article, published in the September 18th edition of The Kings County Register, click here.

Here are some quotes from the article:
Marty has been to court twice to try to access treatment for Adam. With the involuntary treatment law, she encountered a warm-hearted judge.

“I sat there, read my letter and cried. I told him, he’s not an adult, he’s my child and he’s going to do something to hurt someone.”

Adam has been criminalized because of his illness on an assault charge.

This judge ordered him treated and he spent two weeks at Valley Regional Hospital. The result, Marty terms, was a miracle.

“It’s a blessing. I see his blue eyes and there’s life there. He’s a grown man, but it’s like the first day of school.”

A recently-released psychiatric patient is believed to have committed suicide this summer. Last month, police were called to Valley Regional Hospital to remove a psychiatric in-patient.

Long-time Canadian Mental Health Association volunteer Terry Hebb says he sees no improvement in local services.

“They have not gotten better. In fact, they continue to turn a blind eye.”

Many in the local community don’t bother going to Valley Regional for mental health treatment, Hebb says.

“Go to Halifax, they tell their friends, because your chances of getting help here are very slim. It’s bad all over the province. There aren’t enough psychiatrists.”

If you are a criminal, you actually get help, Hebb says.

“It shouldn’t be that way. There are real ways to help someone before they commit a violent crime.”

According to Hebb, many patients move to Kentville because of the regional hospital, expecting help. Housing for the chronically ill is a major problem.

“Beds at Valley Regional go empty because they won’t admit patients. Then, they release them at 5 p.m. on a Friday and they have nowhere to go.”

A woman who befriended a patient released August 8 describes meeting callous healthcare providers, no release plan and a young man left raving with a plastic bag full of three prescriptions in his hand. A few days later in a Kentville apartment, he covered the windows in toothpaste so no one could look in, gave away his groceries and burned possessions in the parking lot.

“Every day there’s something. Twice he’s locked himself out. I’ve had enough. Nobody takes ownership of him and I hear there are three more like him out there,” she said.

Back in January, Dr. John Campbell, head of mental health and addictions services, said the Annapolis Valley Health District had hired a manager of community support and rehabilitation in September 2007 to take a collaborative approach to chronic mental health cases. Campbell also said psychiatric beds in Kentville are full 50 to 60 per cent of the time.

Photograph courtesy of The Kings County Register

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