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.

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