Tuesday, October 25, 2011
In recent weeks I have been involved in several intense conversations with different members of the congregation about the mental health of loved ones. In a couple of situations the health of these family members has deteriorated to the point where they are at risk to themselves and possibly others. Part of the frustration is that laws which were implemented to protect the individual do exactly the opposite when mental health is severely compromised. Individuals who have lost touch with reality are still in charge of their own destiny until something catastrophic happens. Meanwhile the people who care about them most are left trying to provide practical support and to seek help, essentially in the dark.
We have just passed World Mental Health Day (October 10 see poster above) but I have come to the conclusion that the mental health care system in this province is insane. At times I can barely contain my anger as I see how everyone involved suffers. The mentally ill person is in indescribable anguish. The health and wellbeing of family members deteriorates and the strain tests even the most loving of families. The pathways in the system as they are today are essentially a maze which defeat everyone involved. I am waiting for someone to describe a situation where they feel well served by the mental health system.
While I know this sounds rather bleak I don't know how else to say this and be honest. Perhaps there will be changes which address the whole person including that person's family support system. In the meantime communities of faith need to be vigilant in supporting those who are suffering and create a climate in which folk are not afraid of being stigmatized by the reality of mental illness in their lives.
I try to remind myself that Jesus was a healer, including those who were outcasts because of their "demons." We can walk with our friends and pray for them, even when they feel that they are beyond prayer.