Thursday, March 06, 2008

Letter To The Editor - Mar 6, 2008 - From Mary Hartman - RE: We Need Mental Health Clinics in BC - (Where's MLA Mary Polak?)

LFP Editor's note: Mary Hartman's letter below to us raises great issues of very much needed mental health clinics. If countries like Australia see the previous errors of their ways and now recognise and do something about this, why can not Canada or simply BC add much needed community mental health clinics. This crisis causes our front line police and emergency rooms far too much time and money. MP Mark Warawa and MLA's Rich Coleman & Mary Polak (LOL....the conversation on health advocate!) where are you on this issue? Another great opportunity (lost?) for you Mary to take a stand and be a champion, finally! You need one otherwise reconsider your political career & 'get out of the way' since you have 'not yet led but only choose to follow' & please stop wasting OUR money on basically full page baking sale ads! Read the attached link to see what Australia is now doing on this issue. They even have a poster shown here on the upper right!
The Editor,
Langley Free Press,

If the original mentally ill Canadians released from institutionalization had been treated, stabilized, housed & monitored as soon as the flood gates were thrown open, we would probably, not have the degrading situation which exists today. Instead they were left to wander the streets, lonely, sick, unmediated, unstabilized & homeless. Can we wonder why they turned to drugs with the help of dealers pouncing on the confused & helpless, becoming infected with multiple diseases & HIV/AIDS. To have these people now being arrested & jailed is nothing more than shocking. Where has the Mental Health Department been in all of these most critical years ?

To now have to treat these poor sick diseased mentally ill souls will be a very complicated process, which could have been avoided, if the grossly overpaid members of the Mental Health Department had done their work at the time of De-institutionalization, when all mentally ill should have been monitored, treated, kept on record & never allowed to become homeless or unstabilized, - &, as in Australia - given a reasonable disability pension for life, somewhere to live in a clean & healthy atmosphere, with a psychiatric nurse to visit regularly, giving medication or monitoring it's intake.

There are over 60 Mental Health clinics in Western Australia alone (see the Internet), both residential for those who have gone off medication & been collected by the Psychiatric Emergency Teams & returned for stabilization, plus walk-in clinics, where they can see a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse if worried or need help. The Canadian Mental Health Department should take note of an excellently progressive country like Australia, instead of looking towards the U.K. only for new ideas.
If most people do not agree that the Police Report is such a powerfully written document ever to come out of the Vancouver Police Department & a severe indictment of a mental health system unable to help those who need it, we should all take our blinkers off & stand up & be counted. The report demands our attention & is a vital condemnation of the province & those who are supposedly running the Mental Health Department.

To think that young policemen & women, inexperienced in the psychiatric needs of our mentally ill Canadians, who are roaming, sleeping & in mental pain on the streets of British Columbia, are being cared for with such kindness, compassion, understanding & dedication, is extraordinary. It could make one sit down & cry with shame. We should all thank these young men & women for their tireless & thankless perseverance.

The Mental Health Department of B.C. should be severely castigated & hide their heads in shame, that these young men & women have had to step in & shoulder such difficult & complex responsibilities when psychiatrists, mental health nurses ( both male & female ), psychologists & associated personnel, should be operating mental health clinics - both residential & walk- in -, over the whole of B.C. especially in Vancouver's Downtown East side & suburbs, where so many of the mentally ill have congregated, & are living in such squalor & degradation.

The graphs, showing one year in the life of someone mentally ill going through so many arrests & so little contact with those supposedly responsible for giving mentally ill people treatment, is absolutely shocking. If each arrested mentally ill person had such a graph, there is no reason why the mental health department could not do the same thing for every mentally ill person in B.C. & have them medicated & monitored regularly by psychiatric staff.

A mentally ill Canadian should not have to be arrested. There should be P.E.T. teams available - psychiatric emergency teams - able to respond immediately, pick up any delinquent who has gone off medication, take them to a residential mental health clinic for stabilization, followed by regular monitoring later.

In comparison, Western Australia, which has one of the best Mental Health Departments available today - population approximately 2 million (2006) - has over 60 mental health clinics scattered over the whole state. Perth's population is around 1& 1/2 million & the mentally ill do not sleep in the streets or walk around unmedicated, but are housed by many church groups & the government, receiving excellent disability pensions. Psychiatric nurses visit regularly & the mentally ill are encouraged to visit their Dr's. once a month.



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