We need more than talking and giving


Matthew Mahoney, as well as his brother Michael Mahoney.

Image courtesy of the Mahoney family / Windsor Star

January 30th is Bell Let's Talk Day, when everyone talks about mental illness on social networks.

Talking about mental illness is key. But doing something about it is paramount.

The stigma declined, thanks in part to this event, bBut there is still a stigma.

People with these types of problems should go to a center where doctors specialize

"When you tell someone that you have a brother with schizophrenia, he's a very quick-talking killer," Michael Mahoney, whose brother Matthew died in a bullet in the middle of the city last year, told me.

Matthew was smart, funny and affectionate, but he did not have many friends. Some people called him a stranger.

People are said to fight cancer with courage. People with mental illness fight with courage as well. But we do not say that.

Bell Let's Talk Day has also raised more than $ 93 million for mental health care and research across Canada since 2010. That's a lot of money.

The President and CEO of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, Janice Kaffer.

Windsor Star

"But what we have to do now," said Janice Kaffer, CEO of Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, the leading agency for child mental health care, "is that we can not rely on just philanthropy and conversations to make the necessary changes.

"What's missing," she said, "is the whole system-focused investment."

Encouraging people to talk about mental illness is valuable.

But "the system has a responsibility not to stop there, and that's the part where we continue to work," she said.

The Regional Center for Children received an increase of $ 500,000 in its base budget last year. It was the first in a decade. The center expanded its crisis service by hiring more staff and opening at night.

There were 530 children waiting for help from various programs. Now, there are 300. They still expect 10 or 12 days for crisis programs up to five months for intensive residential care.

"No child should expect – no way," Kaffer said.

Hotel-Dieu is still lobbying for an urgent center for mental illness and addiction, something Kaffer calls "imperative" to take care of the "large number" of people suffering from mental illness or dependency that appear in the emergency department .

The emergency department is not the place for people with mental illness.

"People with these kinds of problems should go to a center where that's what doctors specialize in," Kaffer said.

We still need more psychiatrists. To help, family physicians can refer patients to the general psychiatric clinic at the Mental and Crisis Center for consultation and counseling. In this way, family doctors can at least provide some care.

Mental illness accounts for about 23% of all illnesses worldwide, but Canada, despite a commitment to spend an additional $ 1.9 billion in mental health care in 10 years, still spends only 7.2 % of their health budget, according to a report released last fall. by the Canadian Mental Health Association. We spend even less proportionately on research. These diseases are manageable, but we do not manage them. We did not intervene early enough or monitored long enough. Many patients expect almost everything – doctors, new drugs covered by public drug plans and community support.

We do not always spend our money wisely, paying too much for expensive hospital care and not enough with less expensive but essential community support.

And because of the limits imposed by law, families have to fight for information about the condition of their loved ones mentally and beg the hospitals to treat them.

For many patients, care is a revolving door.

Hotel-Dieu recruited two child psychiatrists. A new health center with a team of doctors, addiction counselors, social workers and others began to care for those with mental illness and addiction. A new mobile reach strategy is expected to be announced this week. There is more coordination among those who provide care because we can no longer stop collaborating.

But the system has been so underfunded and so fractured for so long.

"The reason I'm still worried is that we're catching up," Kaffer said, "and it's difficult because the need continues to grow."

The most important focus should be on children's mental health.

"That's where we can get more winnings," she said. If we treat children, "we really change the course of their lives."

That's why we need more than talking on January 30. We need a fundamental change that treats mental illness as physical illness.

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