So a young woman kills herself because she can not get the mental health care she needs. If you think this is a new story then think again. This is not a new story at all. This is a story i have seen personally play out many times. I’ve seen it play out in deaths, I’ve seen it play out in broken families, i’ve seen it play out in children not getting the care they need, and i am sick of it. Really, really sick of it.
I know so many good hearted people who work in the mental health system who try hard every day to make a difference for those who have these illnesses. They put in unbelievable hours and deal with an encyclopedia of tragedy and woe that those who suffer with mental illness endure but in the end it does not matter. enough.
It doesn’t matter because despite public campaigns about stigma, despite videos of celebrities who speak up about their struggles, despite more than 1,000 people filling a breakfast here in London about mental health it doesn’t matter in the end. Why? Because despite all this pressure and all this public talk we, the citizens of this country, province, city, do not care enough to make sure that our political parties fund mental health and make sure that services are delivered not just well, but brilliantly.
Many speak about the stigma of mental health but it’s not stigma. No, stigma is much too polite a word for what is really happening here. The word we should be using is prejudice. Our system that we empower, our workplaces where we serve, our hospitals and schools where we learn, are prejudiced against those with mental illness. If you went to the emergency room with a broken arm then you would be treated immediately. If you had diabetes then you would have a system of care around you that would ensure you did not die. If you had cancer then you would have an inspiring system of medical and psychological support while you battled through this affliction and at the end you would get to ring a bell. There is no bell for mental illness. There is no support at the ER, no coordinated handoff between community and hospital care, and we deal with mental illness though the police being called. There is no other word for this but prejudice.
In the end friends, every one of us is culpable in the death of this young woman, Jenepher Watt. We chose not to pay for the care that she and hundreds of thousands need in order to give them a chance at the life they deserve. The child and youth mental health system is brokenly divided between the health, social service, education, and often justice system. The adult system is broken between the health, community, and justice system. There is turf protecting, there is risk avoidance, there is a failure on all of our parts to point to the issues. And the largest failure is that we choose, WE CHOOSE, not to insist this fractured system be fixed and properly funded.
If I sound angry friends, then I am sorry but I am angry. I am so angry that I feel helpless. I am angry that the NDP and the Conservatives will use this as fodder for their own political ends. I am angry that the Liberals have not fixed this system yet. And I am angry at myself because I haven’t managed to do enough to change it and convince the rest of you to stop talking and do something about it. It’s time for Canada to stop being the only country in the G8 with out a national policy on mental health.
I have seen this story play out in my family, my friends, my community, and I sick of it. I am sick of seeing deaths and wasted lives. I am sick of seeing dedicated workers not know what to do. I am sick of our collective indifference to this pandemic of illness in our communities. And yet I am still stubborn enough, or foolish enough, to think that if we choose to, then this would all change and we would not have any more Jeniphers to mourn. Instead, we would all be celebrating their and our lives. But we choose not to make that happen. Maybe it’s time to change our minds and make something happen. Please, I am begging you, MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN. MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN. CHANGE THIS BROKEN SYSTEM. Write your MPP’s and MP’s and City Councillors and demand that this has to change and they have to cooperate to do it.
Mister of Health – Federal Government
The Honourable Rona Ambrose, P.C., M.P.
Send Comments here – http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/contact/ahc-asc/minist-eng.php
MP London North Centre
Email – susan.Truppe@parl.gc.ca
MP London West
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
MP London Fanshawe
Minister of Health – Ontario
Hon. Dr. Eric Hoskins
Send comments here – http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/common/default.aspx
Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy
President of the Treasury Board
MPP London North Centre
MPP – London West
MPP – London Fanshawe
London City Council