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David Baxter

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Advice on how to seek mental health assistance
Thursday, April 15, 2004
By The Associated Press

Dr. Mark Hazelrigg, chief of forensic psychiatric services at Dorothea Dix, the state mental hospital in Raleigh, suggests the following steps for anyone concerned that a loved one might be a danger to society or themselves:

o If a therapist is already involved, it's best to talk with the mental health professional directly, because they'll know which doors to open in a crisis.
o If someone doesn't have a therapist or the counselor can't be reached, a local mental health center or hospital emergency room can explain the procedure for involuntary committment. The process involves visiting a county magistrate or court clerk and offering evidence that there's an imminent threat of dangerous behavior.
o If those steps don't work, law enforcement officers can be called. They have the power to take people away for involuntary committment if they believe there is an imminent risk.

Beth Hardy, incoming president of North Carolina's chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, says families unable to get help should file a grievance with the local mental health authority stating that their need is not being met. Another possibility is contacting the Gov.'s Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities.
 

dmcgill

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All that advice is very good but when you live and work in a Province who have cut back by up to 35% on all human resourse dollars, (including Mental Health) then what?

I have an example in my practice. A very young pre-teen female made a very serious suiside attempt. It took me three days before I could even find a underqualified counselor to take on the case. I now have (as of the middle of April) have a case load of 169 files. All are still in the upper medium to high risk level, and many of them I see daily. I can't find treatment, psych help or even medical doctors who can help me. I have two other drug specialists in our area but none who deal with the demographic I deal with.
Our Premier came to see us two weeks ago and wouldn't even take time to talk to me. Our Health Minister gives me nothing but the political garbage and meanwhile we work and work, trying to do the very maximum of service with the very mininum of dollars.
 

David Baxter

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That's similar to the state of affairs in Ontario, Dennis - it's almost impossible in Ottawa to find a family doctor taking new patients - getting an appointment with a psychiatrist is a minimum of 6-9 months for a mediocre one and 1-2 years for a good one - one basically can't get provincially-funded psychological services at all in most cases.

Patients admitted to regular or psychiatric hopsitals are discharged earlier than is safe because of the demand for beds that don't exist...

What is especially frustrating to me is that all of this was 100% predictable at least 10 years ago and most of the time all you hear is one level of government blaming another level for the mess. None of these so-called "public servants" (by which I mean politicians - I'm not blaming the front line workers) have the vaguest idea about the real extent of the problem because they simply don't care... and no one has shown any genuine interest in cleaning up the mess, which is only going to get worse.
 
A

Anonymous

Well stats in BC show a sharp increase in Mental illness over the past 5 years so what frustrates me to no end is who in this brain vacume called our leaders, is doing the math. We have no problem funding some programs and we can loose 100 million dollars a few years back over the scholarship scandel and not even miss the dollars let alone put them to better use. When it comes to mental health though, we have really lost it.
 

David Baxter

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Help organizations like CAMH raise awareness of the problem.

Write to your local newspapers about your concerns.

Write to your local politicians at all levels of government.

If you help to make it an issue and get politicians thinking that someone who votes cares, those who control public funding will "care", because they care about votes and looking good in the media.
 

RBM

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Just make sure when involuntary treatment is involved because trust can be shattered, never to return.
 

David Baxter

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RBM:

We're talking here about a situation where someone would be or could be at the end of his or her rope and looking for emergency attention... It would obviously be far better if there were an abundance of affordable psychiatrists and psychologists available but unfortunately that isn't usually the case.
 

RBM

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I know, I'm just giving advice that comes from experience.
 

HA

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I think the worst thing to do is...nothing. Many people believe that there is no point writing letters or complaining because nothing will change. Many voices make changes. It is just dreadful that people with mental illnesses suffer and die with very few people batting an eye.

Yet, with heart disease (as just one example) you have massive funding and campaigns for prevention. I've yet to hear that many people with heart disease are dying because there are no hospital beds or people with adequate training to help them. Yet with mental illness, people are turned away from hospitals all the time. There is a great disparity between mental and physical illnesses within the medical system.

I like this idea: "....families unable to get help should file a grievance with the local mental health authority stating that their need is not being met. Another possibility is contacting the Gov.'s Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities."

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology with their consultation on mental health, mental illness and addiction is a good initiative.
https://senate-senat.dialoguecircles.com/Default.aspx
 

healthbound

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Thanks David and HeartArt.

I really became aware of how little funding and awareness there still is NOT when I became depressed again this time. My own lack of awareness about depression, suicide and PTSD prompted me to begin looking around for various projects or funding sources. It wasn't until I came across a book that was funded by the CMHA that I even really became aware of them. this struck me as very odd seeing as I had a sister who committed suicide, a mother who was mentally ill, and had experienced major depression myself. I mean, with so much mental illness activity going on around me, you'd think I'd know what to do and where to go. But, no.

I am aware of (and know how to contribute to) associations helping MS, Cancer, Diabetes, Living with HIV, AIDS and Big Brothers, quit smoking, quit drinking/drugs, yet I couldn't tell you (until I discovered the CMHA) where to go to donate or contribute to mental illness.

In Canada, "Suicide is a leading cause of premature death" (http://www.suicideinfo.ca/csp/assets/FacingtheFacts.pdf - note: requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

In the USA, both Homicide and Suicide are within the top 10 causes of death, however Suicide kills more than 2 times as many people compared to homicide (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/nvsr52_09p9.pdf - note: requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

But it seems to me that we are continuously bombarded with news and information about homicide and rarely (if at all) about suicide.

The information I've read tells me that suicide is preventable, but how can we prevent it if we never talk about it? How will we recognize the warning signs? And what will we do or where do we go if we DO identify warning signs?

I wonder why there isn't more awareness and fundraising going on. Why aren't there dog walks for depression or miles for mental illness or tricks for trauma or magic for mourning or concerts for cognition or skating for psychotherapy?

I'm going to take your suggestions (David and HeartArt):

[*]Write to your local newspapers about your concerns;

[*]Write to your local politicians at all levels of government;

[*]"....families unable to get help should file a grievance with the local mental health authority stating that their need is not being met. Another possibility is contacting the Gov.'s Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities." and;

[*]The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology with their consultation on mental health, mental illness and addiction is a good initiative. [/list:u] I quickly checked out the link, https://senate-senat.dialoguecircles.com/Default.aspx and will start there.

It just doesn't make any sense that there is such a lack of awareness and readily available help for an illness that affects so many. And it's not just the ill that are affected. It is also everyone around them...family, friends, community, employers, health workers, insurance companies etc etc etc.

Anyway, I'll start by doing my part :)

Thanks again.
 
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