Friday, June 27, 2008

Canada's National Scandal


People are a bit like buildings. Sometimes they look sad and forlorn, sometimes comical and fresh. Looking from the outside doesn't say much about the inside. What strengths, surprises, costs and depravities remain hidden? Agents and friends can help to find self-identity; enemies, mis-directed friends and enviromental pests attack both foundation and structure.

Last year Canada finally established a Mental Health Commission to attempt to address the lack of attention given to those Canadians who suffer cracks in their foundations, that 10% of us who are likely to experience severe, debilitating distress at some point in our lives. The hope is that money will, at long last, be dedicated to research for treatment and cure for those things that afflict our minds and spirits. Canadians need to discuss realities which have been swept under the proverbial rug.

The most scandalous part of this story is that damaged people are shuffled from one government department to another as they attempt to find assistance. Specifically they are forced to travel back and forth between agencies providing 'social services' (really mainly money) and those providing health care, housing or shelter, food, clothing and sense of community.

The Ministry of Health is not set up to work together with Provincial or Municipal Social Services Ministries. There is no coordination between these agencies for people who do not fit neatly into the medical model for physical illness.
Would you accuse a person with diabetes or cancer of being responsible for his or her illness?
Would we send blind people to six different branches of the CNIB?
Why is it acceptible tell a mentally incapacitated person to 'just get a job'?

Why are our churches and other religious institutions largely silent on this issue? Thank God for the good work that is being done. Much, much more is needed.

Speak out! We, who have suffered schizophrenia, psychosis or depression need places to tell our stories. Well this is one such place. Please do so, here and elsewhere, before more of us, or our loved ones, suffer needlessly due to neglect, ignorance, or lack of awareness of the scattered but helpful resources that do exist.