Author Topic: Mental Health Commission  (Read 3936 times)

BCseawalker

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Mental Health Commission
« on: March 14, 2008, 12:59:12 PM »
Below is an excerpt from the Mar 12, 2008 Hansard for Question Period.

The question was asked by a CPC MP of Tony Clement, Minister of Health, to enable Clement to enter into the Hansard mention of the Mental Health Commission (which was formed last summer). Would be interested to hear your views of Clement's comments.

Shall share my own reaction - instant and furious - in a bit.

Quote
Health

Mr. Wajid Khan (Mississauga—Streetsville, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, last summer the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health announced Canada's first ever Mental Health Commission. Mental health groups from across the country gave an enthusiastic welcome to this long overdue action to help some of the most vulnerable in our society.

    Those who failed Canadians sit on the benches on that side of the House. After years of struggling in the shadows under the previous government, individuals and families dealing with mental health issues can finally count on help from this federal government.

    Could the Minister of Health inform the House on how this Conservative government is keeping its promise to help Canadians?

Hon. Tony Clement (Minister of Health and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, let me first thank the hon. member for an excellent question. I would say to the House that even in good economic times there are those at risk of being left behind, but Canadians are guided by the values of compassion, kindness and generosity. That is why we created the Mental Health Commission in the first place.

    That is why the Minister of Finance, demonstrating those important values himself, announced funding in budget 2008 for the commission to establish five pilot projects across the country to help show the way on how we can help those who are homeless and suffering from mental illness.

EDA: Oops. Should I have put this under Health News? Thing is, I view it as much more political that health-related.

BCseawalker

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Re: Mental Health Commission
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2008, 01:25:00 PM »
OK, so to start with...

I was incensed by Clement's comments and this announcement I read on the MHCC website. The politicos have immediately associated 'homelessness' with 'mental illness'. Not only do I question that association, since it is a false one, I've problems with both conceptions.

'Homelessness' would be better defined as 'houselessness'. There are those who are labelled as homeless who have chosen not to be surrounded by bricks and mortar. (Are they therefore mentally ill because they have chosen differently?) Those who have not chosen houselessness could legitimately be described as depressed, stressed, and anxiety-prone. Should that basic survival response be labelled as mental illness? (Yes, cuz it's a great boost for the mental health industry.)

Then there's 'mental illness'. The entire mental health industry should be challenged.

And this kind of stuff gets public funding!

Croghan27

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Re: Mental Health Commission
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2008, 03:26:48 PM »
Apparently not only is being 'homeless' a health condition, but according to the announcement so is living with 'substance abuse', being Aboriginal and being a new, non-English speaking immigrant.

I guess that Mental Health is now a geographic, racial, and linguistic matter.

Methinks that this "Micheal Pietrus", the "Director of Information Services" has a lot of 'splain'in to do. (Yes, that is how he spells his name.)

If you are worried where the $110 millions is going, another release, this time from the newly appointed CEO, Michael Howlett,  tells all:
Quote
"This is a great opportunity to make a difference. I have seen firsthand the effect poor mental health can have on a family, and I look forward to working on behalf of the Mental Health Commission to improve the lives of Canadians impacted by mental illness. We look to build strong partnerships with government and business to make mental health the foundation of total health," said Mr. Howlett.
Ya gotta like those strong partnerships with business.

Mr. Howlett PhD. teaches Political Science at Simon Fraser.
"It is also a good rule not to put overmuch confidence in the observational results that are put forward until they are confirmed by theory." -- Arthur Stanley Eddington

BCseawalker

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Re: Mental Health Commission
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2008, 03:59:18 PM »
Well, shelter or housing is a determinant of health. Specifically, it's about how one is housed according to one's needs.

But who defines those needs? Increasingly, it's the mental health industry.

One of the issues is whether the needs WE define ourselves conform to the needs the MH industry deems as valid. I've known many houseless people who have different perspectives, behave differently than the MH industry's ever-narrowing definition of normal, and choose to live outdoors or intransigently like nomads or gypsies. They don't conform to certain standards approved by the larger society that surrounds them.

Their difference shouldn't be used to paint (all or most of ) them as mentally ill. That's what's happening, which is a disgrace.

Croghan27

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Re: Mental Health Commission
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2008, 05:00:14 PM »
Quote
Well, shelter or housing is a determinant of health. Specifically, it's about how one is housed according to one's needs.

But who defines those needs? Increasingly, it's the mental health industry.

Maybe needs. maybe desires.
I have mentioned before that I stayed in a 'community' of the homeless at the foot of the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto. They, almost to a person, had rejected conventional living standards. Even if they had to live in the city as when all else failed, there were services available (welfare, shelters, food banks), but these were used only spottily.  

Indeed, some people there did have some mental problems, and could not operate in 'regular' society - these people were known and to a certain extent accepted and taken care of in that world: some were dangerously paranoid, some self-destructive - they often had to be protected from themselves.

I would make a guess that this is what lies behind equating mental illness and homelessness - yet this is a chicken and egg problem. They are homeless because they could not live 'normally' (whatever that is), and they do not act 'normally' because of their living situation.

I am in no way a professional in this matter - but if asked to illustrate the difference between those that had rejected conventional living arrangements and those that had serious mental problems, I would say that those with illness were unhappy all the time, nothing could drag them out of their deep depression/paranoia - misery defined their condition far more than logic or situation.

Many of the 'others' also had problems - problems that differed in a qualitative way not quantitive, not like just like those I feel were qenuinely ill but not so bad:: some troubles with living in society; some had problems with authority; some (most) had criminal records; some could not hold any kind of regular job; and yes, many had 'substance abuse' problems. It would be a cliche to say they knew their situation and often treated it in an amused, self-depreciating manner.

I see according to this Mental Health Commission they were sick puppies. (They would like that description.  :lol: ) I know that most lived there without harming anyone or anything until the bulldozers rousted them out. I do know that many were my friends.
"It is also a good rule not to put overmuch confidence in the observational results that are put forward until they are confirmed by theory." -- Arthur Stanley Eddington

BCseawalker

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Re: Mental Health Commission
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2008, 05:12:25 PM »
I was very touched by the testimonies of people who had lived in Toronto's Tent City, as given in Gordon Laird's report for the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership. In general, I do not support research done on people who society marginalizes - since it's almost always exploitive and does nothing to help them. But this study was a winner, particularly given the large space given to 'the homeless' themselves. It contains some very moving and extremely good advice. The latter, of course, has been ignored.

skdadl

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Re: Mental Health Commission
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2008, 05:59:49 PM »
I am only very slowly thinking my way through this thread. I am fascinated by the links you've given us, Croghan. An arm's-length commission needs a CEO? Ah ... pourquoi?

I thought the main purpose of arm's-length commissions was regulatory and oversight, yes/no? Maybe we need to have this discussion. Harper has, of course, been having unhappy experiences with such bodies lately, the Military Police Complaints Commission being the latest example (and hi, Linda Keen). Soooo ... what is this new animal he has birthed?

I'll see what I can find out about Howlett.

And yes, BCseawalker: this smells bad to me, at many levels.

Croghan27

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Re: Mental Health Commission
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2008, 06:15:05 PM »
:rotfl:

Hey - page 45 of the Shelter Document, upper right hand corner. I spent many-a-happy night there.  :lol:

A box of beer and a fire out front - even if the inside was surprisingly big - a fine time was had by all.

 :rotfl:

I think the 'owner' as far as the place had owners, was named Martin - but I would go there with a friend named Mona who was married to him, as far as that went there, at one time. I went looking for Mona when I was in Toronto last fall - she too has dropped off the edge of the universe.

The last I heard of Martin was that he got busted .... not sure why and that is not important anyway, the residents were always getting busted for something or other.
"It is also a good rule not to put overmuch confidence in the observational results that are put forward until they are confirmed by theory." -- Arthur Stanley Eddington

BCseawalker

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Re: Mental Health Commission
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2008, 06:27:28 PM »
Quote from: Croghan27
Hey - page 45 of the Shelter Document, upper right hand corner. I spent many-a-happy night there.  :lol:

A box of beer and a fire out front - even if the inside was surprisingly big - a fine time was had by all.

 :rotfl:

Certainly looks homey to me!

TTC was a community and the City of Toronto destroyed it. I doubt the residents were consulted or, if they were, their advice heeded - just as their advice in the report was ignored.

Of course, the destruction of tent cities is happening everywhere in Canada.

BCseawalker

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Re: Mental Health Commission
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2008, 01:59:24 PM »
Have expanded in my blog my response to Clement's comments and the association being made between mental illness and homelessness. I tell of an experience during my WISE work.

sparqui

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Re: Mental Health Commission
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2008, 04:40:26 PM »
I enjoyed that post BCs. The example of those two women is eye-opening. Too many people are quick to judge and have no concept of walking in other people's shoes.
If my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a tractor. -- Gilles Duceppe

BCseawalker

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Re: Mental Health Commission
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2008, 05:09:14 PM »
There were many more like them, Sparqui. They weren't that unusual within that population, as public perception would imply.

Would love to help women and men like these tell their stories, as I did for Policies of Exclusion, Poverty & Health: Stories from the front.

There's so much to learn from them, so much to admire. My life has been enriched by my having met them.

Thank you for commenting on my blog, btw. Am still battling with myself to keep the thing going (bargain basement self-esteem is the problem). People visiting and commenting helps.

Toedancer

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Re: Mental Health Commission
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2008, 09:47:05 PM »
Great post BCs, I sent your blog address because of that post to a good friend who lives in B.C.  :wink:
"Democracy is not the law of the majority, it's the protection of the minority." -Albert Camus 1913-1960

skdadl

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Re: Mental Health Commission
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2008, 06:44:55 AM »
Well done, CO. It's an important question to keep raising: who is benefiting from the mental-health "industry"?

sparqui

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Re: Mental Health Commission
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2008, 01:34:21 PM »
I hope you don't give up on your blog BCs. I think it is really well written and informative.
If my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a tractor. -- Gilles Duceppe

 

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