Monday, February 21, 2011

Is Canada making progress in treating mental illness?

Listen to the episode aired yesterday, February 21st:
On Cross Country Checkup: mental illness

It used to be the condition nobody would talk about. Five years ago a Senate report ... the first-ever national study of mental health and addiction, said Canada badly needed a strategy to deal with mental illness.

What has changed since then? Is support for mental health improving?

With guest host Andrew Nichols.


Five years ago a Senate report, the first-ever national study of mental health and addiction, said Canada badly needed a strategy to deal with mental illness.

Today we want to talk about mental health services in Canada.

When that report came out, Cross Country Checkup did a program on it asking Canadians for their views on the subject. The reponse was overwhelming. From people who themselves battled with mental illness, to families having difficulty trying to manage one of their own, to professionals who have identified solutions but don't see them instituted in their work places.

Since then we have been checking back in every few years to see how things are going. To see what has changed since and to find out whether support for mental health is improving?

The co-author of the report was Senator Michael Kirby and he has joined us on each program to update us on the progress. He will join us again later in today's program ... but this is also your chance to talk about the issues and stories ... things that you have seen or experienced that might provide some insight and help the process along.

The Senate Report, called "Out of the Shadows at Last", contained the following quotation:

In no other field, except perhaps leprosy, has there been as much confusion, misdirection and discrimination against the patient, as in mental illness... Down through the ages, they have been estranged by society and cast out to wander in the wilderness. Mental illness, even today, is all too often considered a crime to be punished, a sin to be expiated, a possessing demon to be exorcised, a disgrace to be hushed up, a personality weakness to be deplored or a welfare problem to be handled as cheaply as possible.

Those words were not original to the report. They came from a 1963 study by the Canadian Mental Health Association. DO those words still ring true today? If they do then one of the first hurdles has not been cleared ... removing the stigma that surrounds the disease many would rather not discuss.

There are other hurdles which our guests will outline ... and you, if you have some experience or insight you'd like to share, then give us a call.

  • Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
  • Dr. Stan Kutcher, Professor of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University & Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health.
  • Honourable Mr. Justice Edward Ormston, Ontario Court of Justice, currently the Chair of the Law and Mental Health Advisory Committee for the Mental Health commission of Canada. Prime mover in the development of the First Mental Health Court in Canada in the City of Toronto.

To listen to this episode, please click here.

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