Tuesday, 12 February 2013

#BellLetsTalk: Youth Mental Health

Okay, so it's #BellLetsTalk day and I'd like to get some things off my chest.
I can't put them in a text message and send them around to my friends, so unfortunately, mental health initiatives will get no help from me today.
But it's still worth having a dialog.
Here's what we need to talk about.
We need more mental health resources for parents in our community. We need better education about mental illness for teachers and doctors. We need more appropriate resources in our emergency rooms to identify burgeoning problems.
Who do we get instead?
The police.
When my son was having suicidal ideation ten years ago, I called the Youth Services Bureau for help. They called the police. The cops hauled both of my sons out onto the front lawn and frisked them in front of the neighbors.
A few days later, my son went onto the street. It was only when he was sleeping in parking garages that I was finally able to get him the help he needed -- from the Youth Services Bureau.
This time, the counsellors were terrific.
I took him to the hospital another time, again for suicide ideation (which stemmed from a drug problem). He was 15 years old and I had to take him to CHEO where we sat in a room in the back for two hours with him holding his head and rocking back and forth.
It seems the hospital staff was afraid he'd scare the children.
Finally, I went to a payphone and called up to the psychiatry department to told them my son needed to see someone, stat. Fifteen minutes later, an intern came down to talk to us. She said, "sorry, we only have two beds". They sent me home with a bunch of literature but no other ideas.
Another time, my other son was experiencing a breakdown.
He menaced his sister in the laundry room.
My husband intervened and held my son until he went limp and catatonic.
Scott carried him into the car and took him to CHEO where doctors gave him a sedative.
He was prescribed Prozac and I was given literature on an anger management program which had a waiting list of at least a year.
Eventually, both boys resolved their issues themselves.
They had our support and the support of a network of great friends.
Today they are well adjusted.
In both their cases, it could have gone either way.
No thanks to the system.
In my community, the hospitals are drastically cutting staffs.
There is little new money for community resources.
The people we do have are not as well trained as they could be.
Yet we have more and more kids having difficulties.
With all my personal experience, I still would not know what to do if I had kids today.
Prayer beads might help.
Talk all you want. Until we have those appropriate resources, we'll lose more kids to their demons.
So there's my five cents worth.

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