As we find ourselves in cold, gloomy November, the days are getting shorter and darker, making it hard for those already struggling with mental health. I’m approaching this subject as I am grieving the loss of a dear friend, after 35 years of friendship. This sad news came after the loss of 3 other loved ones in the last few years. Losing people you love because of addiction or mental illness is truly awful, especially when their cry for help was not answered by the broken healthcare system. Broken care means broken lives.
1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental illness. Men have higher rates of substance use disorders, while women experience a higher rate of mood and anxiety disorders. Compared to the general population, people with mental illnesses are twice as likely to go through substance abuse.
Canada’s mental-care needs have risen dramatically. Yet care providers are unable to keep up and barriers prevent people from getting the care they need. Many slip through the cracks of the system.
As a result, “many people with complex or chronic mental health problems end up cycling through the acute-care system,” the CMHA says. These people end up getting hospitalised, and prescribed medications that may not meet their needs. While the prescriptions of psychopathic drugs are easily given out, research shows that all too often, Canadians take medications that may not be effective or safe for their particular mental health problems.
Then patients are quickly discharged, without any follow-up care. People are put back out on the street long before they are ready. Because healthcare systems are overloaded and plagued with inadequate funding, poor access, and ongoing workforce shortages. Meanwhile, care workers are deeply overworked, undervalued, and underpaid.
We must opt for a better care system. Which is easier said than done. Canada must declare a national mental health emergency. Schools should provide mental health education, that educates students on how to live a mentally healthy lifestyle. Insurance companies should be not be allowed to deny coverage for mentally ill patients. And endless other systematic changes could help reduce suffering and save lives. Along with lower work pressure, better communication, and more attention to a holistic lifestyle and healing our bodies. Not to mention, our duty as a community to show more love and compassion for those around us.
The loss of the ones you love is heavy. If you're going through something similar, this is your reminder to be gentle with yourself and to take care of yourself.