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Second Opinion

Mental illness - past or present - is not a crime

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

But discriminating against people with mental illness is ...Read the full article

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  1. Hands Off vK from London, Canada writes: What an absolitely non-sensical article. What abrogation of civil rights has taken place ... does Mr. Picard even have a clear idea of what civil rights are?

    By definition, having a police record for whatever it may be ... Picard mentioned drugging/drinking yourself into a stupor or trashing a car as examples. These would be ... well ... crimes .. especially if combined, and dangerous to public safety. Whether or not someone has a nice home is irrelevant to whether the public is endagered by them driving, or volunteering if their mental illness is dehabilitating enough to justify it.

    You're right Mr. Picard, mental illness is not a crime in itself, but committing a crime, regardless of whether because of mental illness or not, justifies having a record of said events. If they were harmless, the police record will state as much.

    Get a grip, the Globe should make me a writer on staff ...
  2. D Gardner from Halifax, Canada writes: Kudos to Andre Picard for raising the awareness of this important issue, one that is being addressed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada via its Mental Health and the Law advisory committee. The comment from London illustrates the challenge ahead. I thought Mr. Picard's opinion was sensible and helped to clarify the issues faced by anyone who has had an interaction with the police connected to a mental illness. Possibly another example is needed to help clarify the injustice. Consider what are the legal repercussions of crashing your car into a business store front or causing an emergency landing of a domestic flight of a passenger airplane. If the cause of these events was related to someone suffering a stroke or heart attack there would be none. However, if the cause is 'agitation due to hearing voices' or 'suicide attempt' then for some reason the situation completely changes from one of a health issue (which it is) to one of a police issue (which it isn't). All causes of the incident are due to a health problem. The police become involved because we do not have appropriate health services and we have inappropriate responses to signs and symptoms of mental illness. However police training is not required in these situations. If it was, each inpatient unit (medical, surgical, rehabilitation, psychiatric, etc.) of our hospitals would need a police officer on stand by. Good thing they are not or many more people would be having police checks turnnig up red flags.
  3. Nestor C from Canada writes: I'm stunned at the logic of this is the standard look at my right had and don't worry what the left hand is doing approach to making something newsworthy...

    While mental illness is by defintion a medical condition, it is a unique one.....and trying to equate it to a bad back or a broken leg as the writer seems to imply is lunacy ....people with broken legs do not have the ability to 'snap' and cause bodily harm to themselves or others....

    If a person has a history of bringing the police out to save themselves from a suicide attempt or other episodes, I do not want this individual coaching my children, period....may be a bit harsh but it's my right to know whether that person is a threat to the safety of my family....that is not discrimination as there is just cause to come to a conclusion on said individual.....

    That said, there is discrimination if the person does in fact have a mental illness and has not caused any criminal issue due to it being handled well by medication or that point there is no reason to think that person is not suitable for publically engaged tasks....

    but this is not what the author is saying....
  4. El Christador from Vancouver, Canada writes: Hands Off vK from London, Canada, I believe the 'police records' being discussed are different from records of criminal convictions. These are records of any interaction with the police whatsoever, for any reason, regardless of whether a crime has even been committed, let alone whether there has been a conviction for it.

    On a different subject, I assume Mr. Picard's '...but discriminating against people with mental illness is [a crime]' at the end is intended figuratively, with 'crime' intended in the sense of a moral wrong, rather than in the legal sense. Legally, it is a violation of Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when done by a governmental agency such as the police (as is the case in this discussion), and is therefore unconstitutional and not allowed, but that's not the same as being a crime.
  5. Nestor C from Canada writes: @D Gardner....

    If someone has a heart attack that causes a plane to emergency land that person does not have the capacity to cause harm to others...further more if that person causes a car accident it is no different than say your brakes luck of the unfortunate turn of events....

    If someone is hearing voices or engaged in a suicide attempt which then causes an aircraft to land say, they do have the capacity to harm others...since they themselves are not incapacitated by there condition which then makes it a medical condition but also a criminal one.....

    It is stunning that you and others don't see that very obvious difference.

    ps. in my town just recently a mentally unstable individual was charged with strangling and beating to a pulp a young woman...this man was 'known' to police.....does it make a difference whether this man was known due to criminal activities or due to episodes caused by mental instability? Would you want this man coaching your kids or serving you a meal in your hospital bed? If you do...god bless.....but not me...and nobody has the right to keep that very material information from me.....
  6. Hands Off vK from London, Canada writes: D Gardner - I think the police will have a record of you crashing your car or causing an emergency landing .. regardless of the factors involved. There is no discrimination in record keeping in regards to emergencies.

    If someone on a regular basis is interrupted by voices in their had that leaves them unable to properly operate a vehicle, frankly, I don't want them driving nor do I want them doing a whole host of things. If this means having medical background checks as opposed to police checks, than so be it ... do you want someone who has schizophrenic episodes volunteering with your children?
  7. B Reynolds from Canada writes: To Hands Off vK: 'do you want someone who has schizophrenic episodes volunteering with your children? '

    I'd be more concerned if someone was volunteering with my kids but was a racist, or was misogynistic. At least a medical condition can be successfully treated and controlled; a perverted personality, on the other hand, is just accepted as 'folks being folks.'

    Chances are anyone who would want to volunteer with kids (or anywhere else) would have a strong vested interest in staying healthy, and therefore would want to keep tabs on their health.
  8. El Christador from Vancouver, Canada writes: What if there is information in the police record that identifies the person's religion or religious beliefs?

    Because that could be relevant to whether people want such a person looking after their kids or in a position of trust. There are people who regard any people with theistic beliefs, for example, or particularly strong religious beliefs, as unreasonable, unbalanced, and dangerous, and not someone you'd want in a position of responsibilty.

    If I understand the logic of some of the posters here, we ought to have a right to know this information and act accordingly.
  9. Nestor C from Canada writes: @El Christador....again...stunning......

    To equate religion with mental illness and the likelihood of either being a threat to society.....unreal.....

    What you again fail to see is that should a religious fanatic of any ilk cause a public disturbance then they will have a record of note which may limit their ability to volunteer and the like....rightfully so......but if a religious person has not caused such disturbances then they have every right to take part....just as I have every right to pay attention to said person and demand a change (or remove my children in those instances) should I not like what I see.....

    The debate put forth by the author isn't one of don't ask don't's one of what is in the public domain.....if the unstable individual has caused issues that indicate a history of public endangerment (this includes hearing voices and suicide attempts btw) then tough beans my right to safety trumps that persons right to coach or volunteer....we have the levers in place for just that reason.....

    Just wait until the first mental patient causes ill to a child....or maybe your child....i can read it already....why was this person allowed to coach etc....why's easy being politcally correct until it happens to you....
  10. Edmund S from Canada writes: A 'police encounter' that does not result in a criminal conviction is - and I thought this would be obvious to most, but apparently it is not - NOT a CRIMINAL history. If non-criminal encounters are allowed to be maintained in a database, it should be available for the benefit of POLICE ONLY, so that if they encounter a person with a history of MHA encounters they know what they are dealing with and can adjust their assessment of the situation for the mutual safety of rhe parties. IT SHOULD NEVER BE RELEASED PUBLICLY since these are not criminal encounters. If the encounters a person has with police - whether as a person with a mental illness or not - DO result in criminal convictions then so be it, that will have to be something the person with the mental illness will have to deal with, just as would anyone else with a criminal record. Most of us are lucky that our medical issues are discovered and diagnosed by health professionals rather than the police. Those who suffer mental illness are either: a) totally unaware they have a mental illness until the symptoms overtake them (sadly, this usually happens publicly); or b) in denial about the degree to which the illness affects them and non-compliant with treatment. This denial is partly due to a lack of 'insight' into the magnitude of the illness (one of the typical SYMPTOMS of mental illness) but also a response to the feeling of stigmatization those diagnosed with these conditions must deal with. Many of the posts here and elsewhere suggest this stigmatization is not imagined, which is truly shameful. The point of the article was that these factors, unique to mental illness, combine to make it so that the privacy rights of those with mental illness are gravely diminished in relation to those with any other medical condition.
  11. Richard E. Gower from Ottawa, Canada writes: This article makes some very good points. The most significant one for me being unstated. That, as a society we collect far too much information and keep it on file...because we can. And official government and law enforcement databases are rife with what I suggest is superfluous, personal information on people that in itself is completely benign, but may be easily misinterpreted by a third-party to the detriment of the individual.
  12. DSM295 point9 from Canada writes: I find this whole campaign to end discrimination of the mentally ill publicized by the Globe and Mail, noble but misguided. The mentally ill are discriminated against because they are not getting well. Make them well again and nobody is going to discriminate against them for being mentally ill, (They will then be faced with the normal discriminations we all suffer.) Psychiatry has failed the mentally ill big time. My son is no longer schizophrenic (no thanks to conventional psychiatry who laboured to keep him in that state). He can now work and take on jobs that no one in their right mind would hire him for in the past. Failure to properly treat the mentally ill leads to tragedy and often criminal records.
  13. Dennis sinneD from Calgary, Canada writes: Edmund S from Canada writes: 'A 'police encounter' that does not result in a criminal conviction is - and I thought this would be obvious to most, but apparently it is not - NOT a CRIMINAL history. ...'

    Exactly, but they keep all kinds of notes about their subjective thoughts of you and the encounter. And, it's impossible to have them remove those 'notes'. I think they consider it their property.

    I agreed one time, when I was 19, to have my finger prints taken by the RCMP so I could be ruled out as the culprit in a theft with the assurance that those prints would be returned. I never saw them again, and was finally asked to quit calling about it...
  14. G Smith from Canada writes: I think B Reynolds is right on the money about those with mental illness volunteering with the so-called 'vulnerable sector.' For many, volunteering is a chance to offer hard-earned wisdom to those in need. It's unfair to screen out such valuable people based simply on medical history and events from the (often distant) past.
  15. cathy RD from kelowna, Canada writes: A couple weeks ago I saw a young man, about 20 years old, having an animated argument with an imaginary friend at the beach. He was kicking sand from time to time, and irritating people. No one was in harm's way other than the potential for sand in their eyes. Someone called the police -- afterall, who else do you call? You don't know if it's safe for you to intervene yourself. The poor man. Obviously he has a mental illness. I would have preferred that a social worker -- of course backed up by police should they be needed -- have come for him and taken him somewhere to be assessed and helped. He was not a criminal, he was just a little 'sick in the head'. Someone has a heart attack, you call an ambulance. Someone commits a crime, you call the police. Someone has a mental episode, we should be able to call an emergency social worker/psychiatrist. Police aren't trained well enough, and it's embarressing for the poor guy if he has any cognition. Picard is right -- this should not have been a policing issue, not unless it's a social worker working with the police.
  16. Christine Best from Toronto, Canada writes: One has to clarify the premises here. 'Chronic' problems that could affect someone's ability to safely volunteer are material. If someone is a serious narcoleptic, has poorly controlled epilepsy, debilitating angina or a whole host of other chronic medical conditions, their ability to perform in certain positions should be (and is) denied. So while there are some benign mental health conditions that society should better understand and accept - there are some that very correctly (and fairly) prohibit their sufferers from certain activities. Let's not pretend that 'mental health issues' can be all balled up as one topic.
  17. Jack Robinson from London, Canada writes: As someone who has been diagnosed with severe Clinical Depression and, with the sadly rare good fortune of timely clinical intervention and compassionate community supports... survived the rigors and rancor of stigmatization that make a positive prognosis a steep and slippery slope of punishment for the afflicted... I commend the Globe's timely focus upon mental health issues that, as evidenced by the recent CMA report and much of the callous reader commentary I've read on these pages... won't be conveniently shrink-wrapped or cured by a teensy tab o' Paxil.

    Our society regards people with mental illness as either potential Hannibals on-the-loose or Beautiful Mind eccentrics and is both a measure of the Crap Culture media's exploitation of our hot-button fears... and the collective, fear-driven self-denial that, in our increasingly dysfunctional Lemming Culture... we're all susceptible to a sudden slide into the ditch.

    That our under-funded, generically-trained and besieged police are compelled to resort to profiling and taser-takedowns of crazies in our septic communities should come as no surprise... and will only pour more paranoid petrol on the increasing pandemic.

  18. Wandering Willy from Kelowna, Canada writes: One of the worst articles ever written and put to print.....stop writing this drivel Andre.
  19. Tracy Bracy from Toronto, Canada writes: EXCUSE ME, BUT YES IT IS. UNDER CURRENT LAW, law officers need not have regular proof of disturbance to incarcerate a person with a certified mental disorder. All they need is a complaint, they dont even have to witness the disturbance. Incarceration is at least and no less than 72 hours and the person is chemically and physically restrained like no other convicted criminal. IT IS A CRIME. Nothing on earth protects a person from being chemically and physically restrainted, detained and incarcerated. It is beyond the law and open to any opinion. All anyone needs is a certification of a mental disorder or any kind and any magnitude. The patient/prisoner can be completely lucid, sane and in control at the time of arrest. It does not matter. NOTHING CAN STOP CHEMICAL AND PHYSICAL RESTRAINT which causes sever physical, emotional and psychological long term damage!!!!!!!
  20. Tracy Bracy from Toronto, Canada writes: Also, there rarely is a serious threat to people from people with mental disorders. They are considered mostly a nuisance. But, the law has taken economic losses from the workplace etc... to the street and schools and homes where an annoyance to say...enjoyment of space or whatever leads to the same charge as maybe negligence in practice. So, basically, it is really just trying to get rid of people who need and who are preventing us from becoming wealthy, sex addicted psychopaths. Also, using the safety and welfare of children doesnt work, at 12 a normal child is more capable of world domination than any adult in the world but having to explain things to them is such a drain on our sex lives. The sex of these people usually matters because people believe that men are capable of very violent acts. Men are often treated more severly than their sex, um men, um sex...nevermind my mind is wandering.
  21. Neo Humanus from Toronto, Canada writes: There is an article in todays paper and remember the beheading a couple of weeks ago??? Both issues were mental health related. This is an issue.
  22. Sandra Clements from Calgary, Canada writes: The mentally ill are not deviants. Statistically, 50% of the population will suffer from a mental illness, be it short term and based on a specific event or long term. Untreated, most difficulties will remain and even get worse. Whether you know it or not, you are likely in regular contact with someone with a mental illness. Due to the stigma, very clear in some of the hateful sentiments expressed in this 'conversation', most people will never let on they are suffering. This stigma and the opportunities for a balanced life that it denies us is usually the worst aspect of being ill. Although I have suffered from mental health challenges my whole life and only recently received a proper diagnosis, I have been a teacher, a successful parent of a mentally ill child (some of this is genetic), and a long time volunteer. I am also intermittently successful in a career in IT and management consulting. Like most people with my problems, I am not dangerous to anyone else just myself. Unlike those who hide their disability or do not have one, I have suffered greatly emotionally and financially because of being laughed at, deliberately triggered and driven into unemployment. I have advocated for better treatment of all those who suffer from any kind of disability and been fired for doing so. I will not live in the closet because someone has to stand up and say that those suffering as I do are competent and decent people who require very little to stay stable and functional. It requires acceptance by society, some kindness and maybe a small hand up when things get tough, and adequate health care. Ah, there are the rubs. We get none of that. Whether genetic or caused by abuse or stress, these are diseases of the physical body, the brain. We are not deviants and those who call us that are the bigoted, ill informed and grossly unkind type of people I would not hire nor allow anywhere near my child or any ill person.
  23. The Religious Left from Canada writes:
    People are naturally afraid of people who can't control their behaviour. A record is proof that someone has had a serious enough lapse in self control that the Police had to get involved. You can't just tell people not to be afraid any more than you can just tell someone to stop being mentally ill.
  24. Charles Smith from United Kingdom writes: Personally, if someone is violent to others; I believe one should not discriminate. Who cares what race, creed or mental state is applicable?
  25. Sandra Clements from Calgary, Canada writes: The assumptions here disturb me. Few mentally ill people express odd behaviour and even fewer are violent. If this were the case, there would be many more problems because there are so very many people with mental illness. This should not be a cause for discriminating against everyone who is ill. Many people who drink alcohol act out in really crazy ways, cause thousands of car accidents, and perpetrate violence on their families. Why are we not castigating all drinkers? Some athletes use steroids but we don't accuse all of them of roid rage. Homosexuals were accused of recruiting people. What garbage. Why are so many so incapable of being logical and thoughtful? Afraid you will catch it?
  26. The Religious Left from Canada writes:
    Sandra Clements from Calgary, Canada writes:Many people who drink alcohol act out in really crazy ways, cause thousands of car accidents, and perpetrate violence on their families. Why are we not castigating all drinkers?

    We do. When people with alcohol problems let it get to the point where police must become involved they certainly face discrimination.
  27. Misery No one from Angus, Canada writes: If your mentally ill don't act strange around a policeman. He is armed t o the teeth, u r not.
  28. Angry West Coast Canuck from Canada writes: Records of CONVICTIONS is arguably important for others to know about. Records of simple contact with the police should not now, nor EVER be divulged to outside organizations. 'Innocent until proven guilty IN A COURT OF LAW' is the standard of justice we supposedly follow. Just having had contact with the police does not make one guilty of any particular crime, and thus should not form part of any type of 'police record' that can be divulged to others.
  29. Harold A. Maio from Ft Myers FL, United States Outlying writes: 'The reality is that 'the' mentally ill are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.'

    That is your reality, mine differs, 'the mentally ill, like the mentally well, like all people, are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.'

    Harold A. Maio
    Advisory Board
    American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation
    Board Member
    Partners in Crisis
    Former Consulting Editor
    Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal
    Boston University
    Language Consultant
    UPENN Collaborative on Community Integration
    of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities
    8955 Forest St
    Ft Myers FL 33907
  30. Dana Cruickshank from Canada writes: Who wants someone with a mental illness working for them. Depression is one thing, but taking drugs and trashing cars is another. Who cares if they are mentally ill, I don't want someone thats gonna attack me working for me. And I don't want someone who is not in the right state of mind working with children or the elderly. Maybe there is a problem with the way the ill are identified and treated, but the last thing I want is to give them camp counselor jobs, give me a break.
  31. Deborah Sudul from Calgary, Canada writes: In response to Sandra Clements: Well said. We need to hear more from those, like you, who have the courage to speak out about mental illness. Like many others, I have difficulty understanding mental illness but do accept that our appalling attitudes towards those who suffer from it need to change. It is a question of education, and I applaud the efforts of those, including this newspaper and Andre Picard, who continue to keep this iimportant issue in the public eye. Get this message into elementary schools!
    Cathy RD also has an excellent point; that there are far more appropriate ways to intervene when a person suffering from a mental illness is in distress. It's good to see some rational voices in this discussion.
  32. George S from Canada writes: Well said Sandra Clements from Calgary. I too have suffered mentally from clinical depression and it is treatable, in my case, with medication and counselling. Hopefully the stigma attached with this condition will lift one day.
  33. mary wells from Canada writes: Everyone has a right to feel safe....... mentally ill people who are controlled have a right to feel safe from mentally ill people who are not controlled.......someone on the beach who is having auditory and visual hallucinations,kicking sand and generally creating a disturbance,should be reported for, not only their own safety, but also for the safety of all around them.Police can usually recognize what is wrong and have knowledge of safe take down measures,should that become necessary.It is very very difficult to try to reason with an ill person who is in a psychotic episode.The safety of the general populace is paramount.
  34. Jorly fuster from Canada writes: I agree with not disclosing medical information in police reports. However, if somebody with a mental illness becomes violent or makes bad judgments that could put others in danger it should appear on a police record. Not doing so is actually discriminating against people with mental illness.
  35. A. Nonymous from Backwards Ville, United States writes: Canada is a great country to experience 'mental illness'. You can refuse any type of treatment, nobody can force it upon you, and if you do commit an offence, you normally get off scott free!
  36. Dick Hurts from Beaton, Canada writes:

    Monkey's is the craziest peoples!!!

  37. Sue W from Canada writes: If I ran a business I would want to know if I was hiring someone who had a history of making suicide attempts, drinking or drugging themselves silly, making paranoia-spewing phone calls, trashing cars etc.....I would hate to think that this person could potentially do all these things at work and pose a possible threat to my employees. Employers should ultimately be the ones to decide whether the person would be a suitable fit for their company, on various levels, just like with any other employees. Depending on the business, and the person's history I would be much more open to hire someone who was honest and was willing to share this information with me, than someone who would either hide or lie about it.
  38. Alena Richer from Elmira, Canada writes: It just never ceases to amaze me how people have continued to be bamboozled by the psychiatric profession itself. What is so often coined 'mental illness' is really an emotional reaction to a life event when a person is in a state of vulnerability. Instead of the medical profession being helpful, they are continually doing the opposite. More atrocities have been committed against human beings by psychiatrists with the use of drugs, which only serve to make persons passive, docile and submissive to their authority. When persons on these drugs discontinue their use, the side effects of withdrawal are horrendous, yet no one ever makes this a valid point. Next time you read in a newspaper that a person/ teenager has committed a violent crime or suicide, and they were under the 'care of a physiatrist', start considering - was it the drugs that caused the episode? or were they going through a period of withdrawal. It makes my stomach churn when I see a young adult committed suicide and the family praise the 'doctor' for all their help! These prescription writing fiends are next thing to a deity!!! WHY? Why do we as a society GIVE OUR POWER AWAY to an individual / medical organization who has never come up with a 'cure' for what they term 'mental illness?' The manner in which people are treated by psychiatry IS A VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS. Why is the real 'cause' of what is termed mental illness never found, discovered and published? Because there is much money to be made in promoting sickness and if you take the time to really look at what is really happening, you will see that that is the whole premise that our medical establishment operates under, unbeknownst to them. Doctors are gullible and susceptible to being bamboozled by pharmaceutical companies as well. In your research you will find that what is coined 'mental illness' is really a dietary imbalance - nutrition-nutrition-nutrition! Want an education; read: Psychiatry - The Ultimate Betrayal
  39. Paul Yuen from Montreal, Canada writes: I feel that there is a lot of misconceived ideas floating around this stream. Granted we do not want those experiencing full-blown episodes of mania, psychosis, depression and so on driving or caring for/supervising children and adolescents. There are, in fact, restrictions to driver's licenses that guard against those with persistent debilitating or dangerous states driving. This being said, those individuals experiencing remission from symptoms and under control of their emotional and psychiatric conditions should not have to be affected by their past indiscretions or actions while they were ill. Those who underwent episodes as a result of diabetes or cushing's disease and acted in ways not normally exhibited are not held responsible and are not prohibited from engaging in meaningful experiences/work. There are various disorders where psychosis or debilitation results -- not only psychiatric conditions. I think it is time for the public to realize that, more and more, psychiatric illnesses are being treated very well where individuals are able to maintain a normal state of existence for extended periods of time. Mental illness is a health issue and your children's safety is something that is of the utmost importance. But let's face reality, there are many people out there who suffer, from time to time, from mental illness that have had run ins with the law, but that are stable and competent individuals who can be a big value-added to many groups. Noting their run ins with the law, which were due to health issues, is not fair to them. If they are applying to run a kids baseball team or applying to a job it is most likely because they are in control of their actions/selves and have stabilized themselves with the help of medical professionals. It is unlikely they would present themselves -- appearing to be a suitable candidate -- if they were not in control. It's time to de-stigmatize mental illnes and to allow for equal opportunities.
  40. Tracy Bracy from Toronto, Canada writes: OMG is anyone listening to me? Detain, restrain, treat. There are no options. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool or ignorant or supports the procedures.
  41. Shannon Tarasko from Kitchener, Canada writes: How ignorant can some people be. 1 in 4 people suffer from mental illness. Most of you probaly have someone in your life that suffer from some sort of mental illness and you have no clue. There is so much stigma that people aren't comfortable sharing. If I sufferd from low blood pressre or low blood sugar, I might pose a risk to children because I might pass out while holding a child or fall on one. Would you still hire me if you knew I had diabeties? Would you hire me if I had epilepsy? Is it really your right to know. Most people suffering from mental illness that apply for jobs or volunteer positions functions just as well if not better then some employees. They are either medicated, recovered, in remission, but they know the importance of dealing with and handeling stress. Alot of suiside attempts happen in the begining of the illness because patients do not know that they are suffering from a mental illness. If one of your employees was going to try to kill themseves chances are they won't do it at their place of employment. If one of your employees is manic and going through a cycle, family members are probaly educated enough to see this comming on and get the person help. I beleive that if a person is suffering from mental illnesss it is their decesion who they choose to tell. Some of your comments make me sick and others comments make me feel proud of how far the stigma of mental illness is breaking down.
  42. Sandra Clements from Calgary, Canada writes: My point about being suspicious of drinkers was that there is no stigma not that we do not deal with them after they have done something. The same should go for the mentally ill - IF someone commits an unacceptable act that individual needs to be dealt with not the entire community of sick people. Furthermore, most family abuse does not spill out into the street and is never identified. I should not raise your ire because someone who was untreated loped off a head. The violence of the drinker is self-imposed. The violence of an ill person is not.
    I have spent over 20 years working in the corporate world and have seen behaviours by 'normal' people that are viciously cruel, many times for no other reason than they can. Anyone following work place abuse issues knows this happens. Yes, these people may well be closet psychopaths. Some of them are people consumed with greed for money, power, and recognition. Think Enron and Anderson. Some people bully for amusement purposes. Consider how you might feel if you suffer from anxiety or depression that is repeatedly triggered and fed by constant abuse at work. You break down. Maybe you start taking sick days. Your tears and nervousness make you a target and around it goes until you lose everything. Your health care worker cannot stop what happens in your office, just hold your hand if you are fortunate enough to be able to afford help. There is no recourse. As a crazy (borderline personality disorder from initial abandonment then years of abuse in childhood, bipolar II, anxiety disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder from repeatedly losing my home and job) who is not in the closet, I have gone through the proper channels asking for, of all things, people to stop laughing at me and setting emotional traps. Work place bullying can trigger people who formally had no problems. I have seen terrible things done to the mentally ill and found management was often laughing their asses off along with the perpetrators.
  43. Hog More from Toronto, Canada writes: Hi Moderator, Thanks for bringing to light the dark realm of schizo affective, schizophrenic and other kinds of disorders that could be reduced to near normalcy with cognitive therapy plus modern meds. A schizoaffective jobless person is ten times more likely to be caught in shop lifting. In the unlikely event of such a person remain being married, there is a very large probability of spousal assuult leading to police intervention. Most likely the crown would even ask for DNA sampling and other well established control methods. Some schizophrenics never grow out of teen affections. Such patients are trapped in their own fantasies, often far away from truth and reality, engage in undesirable acts even in public. Can anyone do anything about this? The answer is yes even though funds are not there. It should be the responsibility of the well educated, responsible members of the society to take a leading role in leading the schizophrenics up the path of recovery. But how? I don't think the reputed reseachers of Eli Lilly and other big pharmas will come out with yet another magic pill and big promise. Many pills have such drowsiness as side effect, it is impossible to do paid work while on the meds. But jobs like mail sorting, medical transcription, mushroom picking, meat cutting/packing, painting etc are well suited to schizophrenic patients. Electronics and maintenance jobs are good for them. But, will you recruit someone on antipsychotic meds to this jobs however well qualified that person might be? Docs could at best prescribe the meds. Many psychiatrists chose their field of study because they could not get a seat in cardiology. It is very unlikely that a doc would heal a person who need maternal affection even though he/she hate the person who could deliver it. It could well be decades before a psychotic patient learn to handle their own emotions while it fools himself.
  44. The Religious Left from Canada writes:
    Sandra Clements from Calgary, Canada writes: I should not raise your ire because someone who was untreated loped off a head.

    No you should not. But for many people you do. We walk around unarmed, and the only thing that keeps us safe is being able to predict the behaviour of the people around us. That is the reason we feel safe falling asleep on the bus. When someone has a proven history of acting so unpredictably that someone felt they needed to call in the guys with guns, well that is frightening. And you can't argue that away any more than someone can argue away your mental problems.
  45. john melnick from winnipeg, Canada writes: Please go further than Nestor C. It is understandable that he - and apparently he alone- wants to be judge,jury and executioner of all who have mental illness. Knowing about the horrific event that he references- could stop many from seeing a bigger picture. But many of these - "criminals" who are known to police are not receiving the medical - yes Nestor I said medical- attention that they need in order for them to stop their criminal behavior. Most people who suffer from mental illness are afraid to seek out the medical - yes Nestor I said medical - attention that they need because people who think like Nestor do not want anyone who has a mental illness around him or his children. So - if Nestor is advised that a person has a mental illness, and he - as he likely would - tells others that this person is a person to be avoided., the person is feared and ostracized. Way to go Nestor - you have dealt with the problem very well. I am asking all look at this on a bigger scale. Be aware that mental health issues are costing the Canadian economy $50 Billion per year. I advise that many people who deal with mental illness are very productive members of society. - I am one. I have depression and I speak/ advocate for those who are willing to see this differently to learn more about this illness. It is an illness and can be treated much more affectively than we are doing now. I am also advising that up to a third of Canadians will be affected by a mental illness in their lifetime.( We must keep eleven million people away from Nestor.) I am advising that learning the signs of mental illness - and learning how to deal with it in it's early stages is very effective. I am asking those who wish to fix the problem to start looking at its causes - and not to fear those who live in fear of being feared. The stigma - mark of shame - ostracizing we who have mental illness can be broken and this can be good for all of us.
  46. Theodore Street from Canada writes: In theory, the police should be a neutral, impartial force in society: an organizational group that is respected and is primarily there to fight crime and perhaps help people in other ways. But over time police forces get involved politics, police unions protect their members from prosecution by helping police clam up, in a brotherly way, so that there is no economic consequence to police brutality except in really big cases.

    With mental health 'information', mainly stuff gathered during investigations, there is a possibility of hearsay and testimony taken from non qualified people, someone saying that another is a mental case, or weird, to get connected to a person so that a person might be flagged as a person of interest -- even though there is no crime, no charges.

    I think we should challenge the police on this sort of labeling: common knowledge (or my impression) is that recruits enter the force without much, or any, academic training in psychology, and obviously psychiatry. If policemen are permitted to attach labels to people without any input from professionals then there should be some transparency so that members of the public can challenge bogus or incorrect judgments.
  47. Angie Gemmell from Toronto, Canada writes: Having read this article and comments made over the last few days, I am deeply disturbed by the ignorance and hateful comments and feelings of so many towards those of us who have to live with and survive Mental Illness. We are all the same .... "Human Beings" and all deserve the same respect no matter what illness we are living with. This "fear" (I call it ignorance) that the mentally ill and going to hurt the 'normal people' is a big joke. When will you release that it is ourselves the majority of us hurt and not necessarily because we want to but the illness makes us feel we have to.

    I hope for the day that the legislation, the people and society as a whole will start to look at Mental Health Illness as just that... an ILLNESS LIKE ANY OTHER! We are treated and do all we can to live a full and normal life, it is the ignorance of hateful people that often are our triggers.

    If you don't understand or don't want to understand, live your life and leave us to live ours and keep your hateful comments to yourself.
  48. L C the 1st from Canada writes: Alena - sounds suspiciously like Scientology - especially as the book quoted is a Scientology tome.

    That is it's own special form of madness right there.
  49. The Religious Left from Canada writes:
    Angie Gemmell from Toronto, Canada writes: This "fear" (I call it ignorance) that the mentally ill and going to hurt the 'normal people' is a big joke.

    I'm wondering if anyone ever referred to your mental illness as a big joke. How is it your irrational mental illness is perfectly understandable, but people's irrational fear is not? Have you considered that maybe people's fear is 'triggered' just like your problems?
  50. effi island from Vancouver, Canada writes: Mental illness is feared because we all have it, to some degree, and no one wants to admit it owing to the huge stigma, evident in some of the comments in this forum. Pick any person and focus on their habits, behaviour, way of speaking, and soon their foibles become symptoms - allayed perhaps for the rich who are deemed eccentric, and will always have a roof over their head so never sink into the type of environment most homeless find themselves. Mainly it depends on the circumstance in that some symptoms fit and are deemed healthy in certain situations, say a soldier carrying out duties in the performance of liquidating other humans. He must act in a way that would be unacceptable in Hometown USA. Appropriateness might be another consideration. Basically everyone is burdened with various degrees of weirdness that could be easily labeled by some professional during a 15 minute interview. My caution to those who suffer from the "its them not me" mentality, thinking those who have been sucessfully labeled should be locked up and hidden away - there but for the grace of god go you!
  51. The Religious Left from Canada writes:
    Maybe all we need to do is classify fear of the mentally ill as an 'illness'
  52. A G from Toronto, Canada writes:
    effi island from Vancouver, Canada writes - there but for the grace of god go you! Well said effi island!
    Hope all you people who feel the need to 'slam' the mentally ill will read this statement and take the time to pause for thought.
    I'm not here to argue with anyone, have the same rights as anyone to my opinions.
  53. Keith Conley from Calgary, Canada writes: I have to agree with the comments, that Mental illness is not self inflicted like the person who goes on a binge of robberies or alcohol consumption etc, and then has an accident. Categorising people with Mental Illness as criminals is wrong. Mr. Picard has given us a topic to think about, and it is up to us to enable those who do not have a chance like we do to freely take themselves for medical treatment to get well. Those with Mental illness need to be treated to get well, and unfortanutaley, in many cases they are not treated, just because they act strange does not mean they are criminals, which I might add they did not inflict on themselves but Society in general has inflicted on them. There are too many who are homeless because of their illness and because Governments have closed the facilities to help these people , and we as a Society cast them off as such, and do not give them the time of day to enable them to get well with the medical aid we freely have, there are too many who happen to fall through the cracks. I have seen women and men, who have problems with skills because of medical conditions which they have no control over, but with medical help these people can be successful in their own right, and I have seen this with my own eyes, they have a feeling of self worth. They are part of our Society, and before one casts a stone , every living being has a right to have a good life. I have to agree with Cathy RD in Kelowna, that this person who kicked up the sand did not need the police to come but someone who has medical experience to asses this individual and in the end help them with medication fo control their actions. "Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you" Joyce Conley
  54. effi island from Vancouver, Canada writes: Great comments and I really feel empathy for the people in pain out there. My observation in life is that the people who fear for their safety focus on the extreme cases of mental illness and ignore the more real threats to the stability in their lives - and there's a long list so I can't blame anyone for feeling perpetual fear and distrust - but can't help but gently remind that in a doctor's office an expression of that fear would be labeled 'paranoia' and result in a prescription. I try to focus on hope and believe in the goodness of humankind, let the chips fall where they may because tomorrow my life has a greater chance of being cut short by someone turning left into my lane on the way to work than a delusional human with a large knife.
    Thanks to the globe for maintaining this conversation and allowing so many voices to be heard. We're all in this together!
  55. J S from Canada writes: Edmund S from Canada - excellent post. Thanks.
  56. annick aubert from toronto, Canada writes: Thank you Effi, you are a breath of fresh air.
    I wonder how the mobile crisis teams enter their calls in the Police records ? Why do the rest of Ontario's Police forces do not adopt London's policy. If one city can do it, why not the rest of the province ?
  57. Undisclosed recipient from Canada writes: The lack of understanding in the comments about some of the many ways the mind works makes this article, and the terrific series which preceded it, worthy for consideration of a National Newspaper Award.

    It is sad that a few commenters lack the empathy required to give a damn.
  58. B Reynolds from Canada writes: You know, one day, all you folks who are so quick to say "Keep the crazies away from me" will probably have your own experience with a mental health problem. To which I say, good luck with that.
  59. The Religious Left from Canada writes:
    B Reynolds from Canada writes: You know, one day, all you folks who are so quick to say "Keep the crazies away from me" will probably have your own experience with a mental health problem

    I had a pretty bad bout of depression. I can understand it can happen to anyone. But if I deteriorated to the point where someone felt they had to call the cops, I wouldn't expect to be entrusted to care for day-care children in the near future.
  60. Between a Rock and a Hard bit from Thailand writes: Sure, that's all well and good but why should I care?
    I'm a toaster.
  61. Trudeau's Apricot poodle from Canada writes: It may not be a crime, but it isn't the standard of society either. Nice as it is to try integrateing everyone, some don't integrate very well despite the machinations of social engineers, who don't live in the same neighborhoods.
  62. Gail Conlon from Canada writes: Living with mental illness is hard enough without having to deal with the narrow minded comments I have read on here. The majority of these comments are made out of fear, because you don't understand mental illness.

    It is a medical condition, not unlike diabetes or heart disease, it can be treated and managed. Those dealing with mental illness can and do lead normal lives and are productive members of society. The biggest hurdle for them to get over is not the illness, it's dealing with comments made by ignorant people. Ignorance is bliss they say!
  63. Heather Bruce from Ottawa, Canada writes: Seven years ago, during the 6 months that I was manic, I had my first and only dealings with the police. I called them a few times, and they were called by others a few times. There was a lot of mistrust going on. I was never arrested, but they took me off a plane once, and took me to the hospital another time. I'm sure it's on file somewhere.
    Since then, I have taught high school, and volunteered with, and now coordinate the Canadian Mental Health Association's "Open Minds" program, going out into the high schools to tell my story so that someone might recognize bipolar disorder in themselves or others, and know what to say and do to help. Strangely, but thankfully, my police records check has always has come up clear. I'm not so sure everyone would regard me as competent if they knew about these transgressions. I would like to be judged on my behaviour when I'm well, and trusted to take care of myself if I start to feel unwell.
    It's amazing how once you have been hospitalized for mental illness, you are assumed to be forever mentally unstable, no matter how well you recover. Would we treat people who have dealt with cancer the same way? No, we'd be glad that the treatment worked and encourage them to go back to their life. We wouldn't keep reminding them that they've been sick before and will probably get sick again. We need to be more supportive of people who are surviving mental illness and just want to get back to normalcy.
  64. Margaret Gunning from british columbia, Canada writes: Re: mental illness is "not a crime".

    Who said it was?

    What if you said, "Well, Parkinson's isn't a crime, you know," or "diabetes isn't punishable by imprisonment."

    It's like saying, "It's not that I think you're ugly. Oh, no. I don't think you're ugly at all."

    Well, who brought the subject up? What a horrible association, and people don't even know they're making it!
  65. JeanPaul John from Halifax, Canada writes: "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Jesus, John 8:7 (NKJV) The premise is that we are all flawed before God, whether or not we believe in him it matters not, he considers us flawed. The beauty of the faith is the Grace that is given through Jesus's death. We are a people who are not graceful, forgiving and patient with those weaker than ourselves. If we have to become weak ourselves to become compassionate then I believe he will help us get to that place. The statistics agree with me on this point, every day more and more people are manifesting behaviour that has been determined to be representative of mental illness. We cannot hold onto fear and compassion at the same time, they are to great to bear simultaneously, we will never love the ones we fear properly because our fear forces us to think of ourselves when we should be thinking of the other person. Yes love, we just do not love people any longer we throw them away far to quickly. I am not advocating for the overlooking of poor and or criminal behaviour but I do know that every offender is a human being first. Think about it, how would you like your child to be treated, when he or she is in that situation, struggling to live with a mental health challenge. Cheers

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