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Dr. David Goldbloom took your questions

Continued from Page 5

Dr. Goldbloom: No one doctor is the right doctor for everyone — and the same goes for all types of mental health professionals. You need to be able to trust and have confidence in the person who is providing treatment and working with you. People can get a second opinion from a psychiatrist (either in private practice or in the Department of Psychiatry of almost every general hospital). However, there will never be enough psychiatrists to meet the mental health needs of all Canadians — nor should there be. Many mental health problems and mental illnesses are treated by primary care physicians (OHIP funded) and a variety of other professionals — psychologists, social workers, counsellors, and spiritual leaders. Family health teams in Ontario may provide some of the multidisciplinary resources needed, as do "shared care" models as best practiced in Hamilton where psychiatrists visit family practices regularly and provide direct and indirect care.

annick aubert from toronto Canada writes: In two of the stories on Saturday, the ill person could not have survived without the help of their loving parents, my question is are parents of the seriously mentally ill welcome as partners in care ?

Dr. Goldbloom: The answer is, "ideally, yes". However, there are times when relationships with parents or other family members have been highly difficult or even destructive — and other times when the person with the mental illness invokes his/her right to privacy in communication. In my experience, the earlier a family is welcomed by health professionals into the clinical relationship, the easier these problems are to navigate, the richer the understanding of the person, and the more extensive the range of supports needed for recovery.

Phil Gardner from Nanaimo, BC Canada writes: Hello Dr. Goldbloom, My question is about how we can begin in Canada to open up the conversation regarding the need for average people to recognize that mental health is a part of everyones' life. When problems of an emotional/ mental wellness nature do occur, we can openly discuss this without the shame and need for secrecy that so many people still feel. Do you think we could make a difference if we begin to do this when people are young- perhaps even in elementary school ? Phil Gardner Nanaimo

Dr. Goldbloom: You are right — we need to start this discussion early. It's one of the reasons CAMH has published two books for children — one called "Can I Catch It Like A Cold?" about having a parent with depression, and "Wishes and Worries" about having a parent with alcoholism. The goal is to explain and to reduce shame. The reality is that when the conversation starts — and it often still takes one courageous person in a social network — there is the realization that this is part of the experience of every family. I think The Globe and Mail's series is starting thousands of these important and necessary conversations across the country.

AE S from Halifax Canada writes: Dr. Goldbloom, If there was one thing that Canadians could do on a daily basis to help dispel the stigma and hurtful myths surrounding mental illness in our society - what would that be in your opinion? (I realize that it's much more complicated than this....) Thanks from Halifax...

Dr. Goldbloom: The best antidote to stigma is human contact — talking with someone who has experienced some form of mental illness and getting to know that there's a person in there, a person like you and me.

Carolyn Abraham: This is obviously a topic that strikes very close to home for a great number of Canadians. Thank you for taking the time to respond to so many questions during the past hour Dr. Goldbloom, it's much appreciated. I'm sorry we didn't have time for all the questions that have come in, but it's encouraging to see so many willing to share their personal experiences in this forum.

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In Breakdown, The Globe and Mail documents the enormous, unaddressed cost of mental illness to Canadian individuals, families and society. The series closes with a search for solutions.

 

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People with mental illnesses face a stigma that can prevent them from getting care. It also stops the public from seeing the problem. Has mental illness affected your life or that of a loved one? Share your experiences with globeandmail.com readers and let us know what single change in society or policy would help the most.

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