Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mental Health in the News

The Ontario Medical Association is set to present a new ad campaign, and have already released a list of “key health priorities” in advance of the provincial election later this year.

The summary of the list contains a couple of mentions to mental health care specifically. The OMA points out that people with mental illness tend to have complex health needs, and require health services more often, however only 1 out of 3 gets the care they need. They also highlight service gaps for young people and the negative effects this has on families. The ad campaign is said to focus heavily on mental health issues.

After having posted the other day about the Toronto mayor’s anti-homeless attitude, I heard statements on the radio that afternoon from Ontario’s Minister of Health Deb Matthews, commenting on the need for more community and supportive housing to address homelessness and mental health issues in the province. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what I heard. I’ve searched and searched, and can’t find any links or articles about this. She has discussed these issues in the past however, and has a good track record of linking poverty and health issues.

Speculation continues as to the mental health status of Richard Kachkar, the man accused of killing police officer Ryan Russel by running him down with a stolen snowplow. While this story and ones such as the Arizona shooting seem to have led to some discussions about preventative mental health care and assessing risk of violence, I fear they are sometimes drowned out by the fascination of spectacle and political rhetoric. It’s especially disappointing in both cases to hear such frequent use of terms like “psycho” “crazy” “nutbar” etc. as though those offensive labels somehow explain why a person would commit these types of crimes.

The CBC radio program The Current has been running a great series on mental health. It is available to listen to online, or as a podcast.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Is this a hospital?

No, we’re a community agency.

Are you a doctor?

No, I’m not a doctor.

Hm, maybe I won’t hate this place after all…

Monday, January 24, 2011


After noticing mentions of it by Tanya at Trench Warfare Too and cb at Fighting Monsters, I had to check out this “Top 50 Blogs by Social Work Professional.” Lo and behold, there I was! #30 Going Mental (you’re there too, Social Worker Mom) Hurrah! Allow me this moment of self-indulgence.

I still have a hard time thinking of myself as a "professional." The word seems to imply someone who is an expert in a field with years of experience...I guess when I think about it, I'm getting there. It’s also funny to see written there “a mental health worker with sympathy for her clients.” It’s very rare that I get any idea of how others perceive my blog. I mostly write it for my own enjoyment, venting and self-soothing, and I tend to think that the biggest strength of my blog is simply that I haven’t given up posting. Absolutely no one that I know if real life has been made aware that I write it (although if someone from my workplace were to stumble here, I’m sure I’d out myself pretty quickly) and all of my lovely followers have gotten here thanks to the good ol’internet.

So thanks, Social Work Blog. It’s nice to feel appreciated noticed.

Update: I realize that including a picture featuring men only is not very representative of social workers, but it was the best pic that came up when I searched "hurrah" - I like it.

Extremely Cold Attitudes (Toward Homeless)

It's -27 celcius today, and snowing. Many of my client's find it difficult to get out of the house much at this time of year. I find myself less and less enthused about bundling up to get in the car and head out to see them.

My thoughts mostly are with the group I used to work with - the homeless and underhoused. An extreme cold weather alert has been called, but we know that some will still be outside.

An older gentleman that I support was distraught last year after his brother died on the steets of Calgary. He was found in a snowbank.

At least that city seems to have a plan in place to address the issue of homelessness, a plan that seems to be making progress.

Calgary's 10 Year Plan seems to be simple and straightforward. First, create permenant affordable housing for individuals and families. Provide support for mental health and addictions. Recognize the systemic issues that create homelessness, and acknowledge the economic toll that it takes on a community. It's great to see such an honest discussion of the problem occuring at a civic level. Several cities in the U.S. have similar plans and report largely positive changes so far.

I only wish that this was a conversation that City Hall in Toronto would have ears for. Instead, we have new Mayor Rob Ford's recent suggestion that social workers should be made security guards of the steets and force homeless people into shelters during extreme cold. Mayor Ford made no comments regarding plans for these folks once the weather warms (to greater than -15). As a city councillor, Ford made his feelings on the matter quite clear stating "People do not want government housing built in the city of Toronto. They want roads fixed, more police presence, but they don't want more government housing that will depreciate the value of their property."
He also cried that it would be "an insult" to his constituents to even discuss having a homeless shelter built in his ward.

So I guess it's up to us - front line agencies, community activists, and the people who need the housing around here to keep up the fight. To find the allies we undoubtedly have in city hall and elsewhere. Not that that is anything new.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Shout Outs

Someone recently pointed me in the direction of Homeless Man Speaks. I’ve been reading the archives, it’s great.

Also, thanks to cb for the mention in your “Weekend Links.” I’m working my way through some of the other bloggers mentioned.

Updates to the blogroll to follow!

Once burned...

"No, I don’t want any relationships. I don’t want to answer to any one but me. Someone always want to control you and know where you going."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Okay then.

What is your marital status?
*blank stare*
Have you ever been married?
(long pause) Maybe…maybe not.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

An Open Letter

Dear Dr. Dontcare: You are not my boss. You are however the boss for four office staff. So why, pray tell, is my client coming to me after his appointment with you asking that I look up the fax number for referrals to the Adult Mental Health Clinic? The referral that you are making. The referral that you already tried to pawn off on me until I pointed out that they only accept from physicians. The referral for which I already provided you with all the contact information. The referral for a clinic at a hospital where you conduct part of your practice.

I looked it up this morning. The number was listed rather plainly on the hospital website. You’re welcome. Your bill is in the mail.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Snow Day that Wasn't

If your boss sends out an email on Tuesday warning of an oncoming snow storm and advising that if the schools are closed the office will be too, that should be taken as a definite sign that the office will be open on Wednesday. The warning email officially “jinx’s” the chance of a snow day.

Oh, it snowed alright. All night too. Just not quite enough to close things down. More than enough however to turn a 25 minute commute into a 75 minute heart attack.

On a happier (personal) note, my niece was born last night! Kiddo was excited because it was the day she picked in the baby poll. Apparently the whole family is doing well, and hopefully the roads will be cleared enough for us to go meet her tonight!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nice try though.

Newsflash dude: while vaporizing your pot may be less unhealthy than smoking it, it does not make you “less” of an addict. And just because your psychiatrist is aware of your cannabis use and has not expressly told you to stop does NOT make it medicinal!

Stupid Stories from Work and from Home

#1 – Work

A co-worker – let’s call her “Kimberly” – was back to the office for the first day after her vacation. Kimberly had an appointment scheduled with “Jeremy J” at 1:00.

At 10:00, Jeremy J shows up to meet with Kimberly. He’s early, but she makes time to meet with him anyway. They sit for about an hour talking about the program supports she can offer, and the type of help that he is looking for. He's really enthusiastic and feels this is "just what I need!" They schedule a follow up appointment for the following week.

At 1:00, Jeremy J shows up to meet with Kimberly. Ah, wait a minute…you’re not Jeremy J, he was already here, and you don’t look a thing like him! It sinks in for Kimberly that she MET AND ASSESSED THE WRONG PERSON with a very similar name. We’re still trying to figure out how this happened, and now she has to do an assessment report for both and figure out just what we’re going to do with Jeremy J #1, since he hasn’t really even been referred to us! Welcome back Kimberly, vacation’s over.

#2 – Home

For some reason, AM decided that he really wanted Five Alive fruit punch at dinner. Dinner was only a short way away, so he put the can of concentrate out on the counter to thaw.

All three of us are hanging around the kitchen waiting for the vegetables to finish roasting, and AM decides that the juice is likely thawed enough to get out of the can. He pulls the little plastic tab and pops the metal top off, but the juice is still pretty frozen and doesn’t want to come out.

AM cleverly decides to hold the lid back on the can and give it a shake to loosen the juice so he can dump it in the jug. Somehow while completing this action (the details of which will be debated in the family for years to come, no doubt) the juice EXPLODES out of the can, landing on just about every single surface in our rather small kitchen, including a dollop on the kiddo’s head, and a good portion in my hair, clothes, and down my neck!

It took one dishcloth, two showers, and three times mopping the floor to (almost) clean up the mess. AM will forever be held responsible for the “Five Alive Attack!” (unless I come up with a better title. Anyone?)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy Belated New Years!

Well, New Year’s day has come and gone and so far 2011 has been a blur! I realized that I hadn’t christened the year with a post yet, and thought I’d better reassure you all that I survived the holidays.

A quiet couple of days in the office at the end of December let me catch up on a lot of backlogged notes and assessments, so I was able to start this year with a clean slate. Let’s see how long I can keep up, hmm?

There are some changes that I know will be happening this year, and some that I am hoping for. Let’s start with some things I can count on:
In 2011…

 I will be transitioning away from doing Intakes, and back to full time case management. We’ve already started gradually increasing my case load which has been at about half for the past year.
 Our new office will open (likely Feb or March) and although I am staying put at the old location, this will certainly bring a lot of change!
 I will have a new niece or nephew…we’re expecting to meet them any day now!
 Two close friends are also expecting, so there will be babies abounding.
 AM and I will figure out our next plans for the house and keep fixin’er up.
 My best friend and I will mark 20 years since we first played on the teeter-totters together. We plan to celebrate by getting matching tattoos!

Things I’m hoping for in 2011…

 Getting our financial ducks in a row. I need to book a meeting with our advisor!
 I WILL learn to crochet! As soon as I get some of my current embroidery projects out of the way.
 The job search shall continue. *sigh*
 I want to find a volunteer opportunity that we can do as a family – AM, the kiddo and I.

When I’m making these resolutions, I try to think of them the way I work with my clients to develop goals – they need a plan, and timelines. I’m getting there.

Here’s to a grand 2011!