How can we help?

Dear Editor,

The level of services to individuals experiencing a serious mental illness is at best shameful-individuals with mental illness are systematically disenfranchised and for that we should all feel shame as Canadians.

1967 was a big year for Montreal. EXPO was held there. Nations of the world gathered together to display their cultures, building lovely pavilions to do so.

1967 was also the beginning of mental health reports and results in the province of Alberta. This report was followed by reports in1980, 1983, 1986, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2009. (according to Irene McDermott). Recommendations have remained basically the same from 1967 until today. The words used to describe this cycle is an example of system stagnation, based on what works for the government agencies, not on what works for the mental health sufferer.

Almost all Albertans with mental health problems live within the community most of the time. With proper support. Ie housing, barrier - free access to government agencies, the mental health sufferer will hopefully be able to recover in the community. However, if this support is not available, they are at the mercy of a hospital system that is now staggering under the weight of a pandemic.

When one out of very four Albertans is suffering from a mental illness, it is unrealistic to attempt to distance ourselves from this issue. How can be help? Being informed is a beginning. Don’t let it end there.

With respect,

D. Ruth Jewell

Three Hills, AB