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Raymond Sheppard: Listen to the people living with mental health issues

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Speaking as a mental health and addictions counsellor and an individual who has anxiety, I strongly believe reforms to this broken mental health system are seriously past due.

Currently in Nova Scotia, the needs of individuals with mental health issues including youth are not being met.

To the extent that there is a mental health system in Nova Scotia it is seriously flawed, especially when it does not reach out to those needing care and those who have dropped out of care.

Many persons with mental illness do not seek care, especially given the outdated yet ongoing stigma attached to mental illness. For those that reach out there is a snail’s pace when it comes to treatment.

I believe if there were more political will to openly and honestly address the concerns and issues with mental illness, it would go far in resolving the associated problems, concerns, issues and indeed stigma.

Resource allocation throughout the system certainly could be greatly improved. Another failure of the system seems to be that one hand does not know what the other hand is doing and when they are doing it.

In my opinion one of the most frequent failures in our so-called mental health system relates to a lack of priority given to mental health by the provincial and federal governments.

Based on a lack of accountability by government, blame must be assigned. But of course assigning blame allows others to escape blame. For example, assigning blame to the provincial government allows the federal government to escape blame quite often.

Mental health policies and practices must lead to the expansion of programs and services in the community, particularly mental health centers. Mental health services must be extended where not available now, to nursing homes and walk-in clinics.

De-institutionalization might be a good thing but if programs and services needed for community care are lacking, it will continue to be less than effective.

Politicians and those involved in the mental health system in Nova Scotia must listen to the people of the province, especially those with mental health issues. Without a finger on the pulse programs implemented will be less than effective.

There need to be housing, support services, community treatment approaches, vocational opportunities, and improvement to income supports for those unable to work. If these necessary and much needed programs and services are not pot in place some individuals may find themselves in the criminal justice system.

I believe early diagnosis and appropriate treatment via programs and services will prevent more severe and prolonged disabilities.

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  1. Well said Raymond! Thank you! Mental health support has been minimal for all communities and non existent in the black communities! We are beyond crisis it’s a state of emergency!

  2. Hello Raymond,

    As a person suffering with borderline personality disorder and have tried to receive help. This article is correct and I have tried multiple different ways to get the help I need from the health care. I even went into QE2 because I was suicidal. They sent me home with sleeping pills to sleep it off. Which I had overdosed on. This is only the tip of the iceberg of issues I’ve come across in the last 5 years trying to get help. If you’d like to find out more about my story and work together maybe we can get help in Nova Scotia for people with mental health disorders.

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