Canadian Mental Health System In CrisisEmail This Post
The Canadian Mental Health System, according to The Globe and Mail Newspaper needs to be dealt with head-on. As editor-in-chief of the Globe and Mail, Edward Greenspon, wrote of Canada’s Mental Health Crisis, in an editorial Friday June 19, 2008, “Face it. Fund it. Fix it.”
Greenspon also said, “One in five Canadians will experience a mental illness in his or her lifetime. It is a pervasive presence in almost all of our lives. And yet we rarely speak of it. The mentally ill are not different; they are us. As a society, we have thrown off many of our social stigmas, but not yet those surrounding mental illness.”
The Globe and Mail, a national newspaper in Canada, based in Toronto, is featuring an in depth eight part series on the Mental Health Crisis in Canada.
In his editorial Globe and Mail editor-in-chief, Greenspon also states that, “There is no better time to start than now. Over the next eight days, The Globe and Mail and globeandmail.com will introduce you to a series of utterly compelling Canadians — people just like you and me — who are struggling with mental illnesses. In a landmark series called Breakdown, the subjects of our stories will invite you deep into their lives. Their stories, told with empathy and intelligence, will sweep away the myths around mental illness. In tackling this subject, we are employing our entire storytelling kit in print and online: text, photography, graphics, audio, slide shows, video.”
“It is far too easy for the media to simply overwhelm audiences with the hopelessness of it all, which is why we strive in major journalistic undertakings such as Breakdown to go from real people with real problems to the attendant social-policy failures to achievable scientific and public-policy solutions.
This week, two hockey greats, Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson and former Montreal Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur, have spoken out about the mental-health challenges within their own families. They have set an example we hope you will emulate.
The time has come to speak your mind, to erase the stigma of mental illness and acknowledge the contribution that those with mental-health issues, such as Alyse, can make to society. Help us by going to globeandmail.com and telling your stories, as Alyse and Daniel Alfredsson have done. The more of us who do that, the more mental illness will be accepted as a normal part of life. And the more it is accepted, the more we can do to adopt the proper policies and combat it.
On April 5, 1890, The Globe ran a mammoth story on its front page called At The Asylum (which is abridged in today’s paper and reproduced in full on the Web). “Insanity,” it began. ‘Does not the word bring to the recollection of almost every reader some face — a friend, a relative perhaps — of one who, though living, is counted among the dead?”
How is it, I wonder, that our Canadian Government (and the governments of other countries as well) manage to stick their heads in the sand when it comes to just how crucial mental health funding is? Do they not get the connection between untreated mental illness and a whole host negatively impacting consequences not only to human beings who are suffering terribly and often stigmatized and shamed hiding isolated and alienated behind close doors – people living without hope – but on society as a whole?
For all the money that we spend housing many who are mentally ill in prison just think how much money society could have been saved if these people had received timely, effective, and well-funded mental health care – therapy – before things got to the point where they committed crimes.
Why is it that what makes such common sense to the common person continues to escape the conscious awareness of politicians? Why do taxpayers continue to put pressure on our political leaders to not spend money on those who are mentally ill and in need, those who are handicapped or differently abled and in need of disability support? Why is it that the percentage of the Province of Ontario’s budget, for example, that actually goes to the poor and/or disabled for example, under 10%, receive the most scrutiny as to its worth when parts of the budget that are set aside for other things that everyone can see are pie-in-the-sky or often serving the already okay or well-off or the donors to those who are in power or saving big corporations money via tax loop-holes and incentives seems to continue to go largely unscrutinized?
We cannot, as a society, as a country, as a world, continue to put our heads in the sand thinking that those who are mentally ill are somehow less than or that it is their own fault. Nothing could be further from the truth. Speaking of the truth, the question that needs to be asked and thought about by all of us is what are we so afraid of? Isn’t it often the case that what me most fear is what we actually need to be dealing with in our lives?
We need to take the stigma and shame out of the equation of mental illness. Mental illness is not a character defect. It does not make one unworthy or discardable. Mental illness is illness, just as is physical illness.
One in five Canadians will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime. This must mean that few are those who can say that no one they know or that no one in their family has a mental illness. Why is their still such shame, stigma, and an unwillingness to get behind supporting the much-needed funding to a very important system in society?
I am very glad to see the Globe and Mail Newspaper step up the plate and take on this issue not only so responsibly and visibly but in such a major and in depth way. It’s about time!
Please visit the Globe and Mail Newspaper and read this most significant and necessary series about the Crisis in Canada’s Mental Health Care System. I am sure that we are not the only country with this challenge. The more the media gets behind this issue the more people will become more aware and then hopefully the more pressure they will put on their politicians to take the action that the crisis and situation demands be taken and swiftly.
© A.J. Mahari, June 21, 2008
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