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Breakdown: Canada's Mental-Health Crisis

Slim chance for parole from a prison of the mind

From Monday's Globe and Mail

It was a federal program meant to get mentally ill young offenders into treatment and out of prisons and lives of crime. It could decide the future of Canada's youngest violent criminals, including an Alberta girl who murdered her parents and brother. But five years after its creation, the IRCS system is hamstrung by restrictive laws and scarce health-care resources, critics say ...Read the full article

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  1. Magnolia Fan from Canada writes: Hmmm, these all sound like criminals to me, not the mentally ill. There are plenty of people in the world, some in responsible positions with disorders. That doesn't mean we have a problem. That's just life.

    Reading between the lines, it looks like the G&M is advocating increased spending on mental health as a form of recessionary spending. Personally, I think health care spending should be based on actual needs, not the economy. Or maybe I'm just being paranoid, and need to be locked up :-)

    The way I see it, there are two fundamental flaws with our mental health system. First of all, hospitals don't pay for psychiatrists, the province does. Hospitals do however have to pay for psychologists, so most interventions involve dangerous psychiatric drugs forced on the most vulnerable members of society.

    Secondly, psychiatrists are slaves to the drug makers. A psychiatrist working for Paul Garfinkle in Toronto found that people on antidepressants have higher rates of suicide. He presented his findings, and got fired. He then went around giving what he called the talk that got him fired. Now, you would think the public should know about a thing like that, and now most antidepressants have warnings, but for Mr Garfinkle, that was too much to bear. So what happened in the end? Paul Garfinkle kept his $400,000 a year job, and got to ensure that the most vulnerable members of Toronto's society remained drugged. To me, this is corruption at it's worst. You can read about the whole affair here: http://www.pharmapolitics.com/cbcnational.html
  2. annick aubert from toronto, Canada writes: Be fair Magnolia fan, this is old news !
    More money is spent on HIV meds, yet no one questions the value of those medications.
  3. S Y from Toronto, Canada writes: Notice the role that substances (alcohol, drugs) plays in so many of these cases.

    We need to take adolescent addiction treatment seriously in this country in order to not only treat - but PREVENT many of these crimes.
  4. asm oak bay from Canada writes: One should not jump to the conclusion that being "seriously disturbed" is synonomous with being diagnosed with a psychiatric illness. People can and do chose evil. Such choices do "disturb" as they destroy the true potential of the person for good and at some level, and to greater and lesser degrees, put them into spiritual and psychological distress. In the case of the Medicine Hat girl, her disturbance is exacerbated by the evil influence of a much older indiviual who, despite being fueled by cocaine, alcohol and his own disturbance, preyed upon her vulnerability becasue he chose to. Not for nothing his choice of a moniker: "souleater".
  5. it's a fact from Canada writes: some of these kids seem sociopathic to me, which IMO is different than committing a crime in a psychotic state, where they hear voices, have delusions etc. some of these kids had no remorse.

    I do believe that mental illness needs more support, however. Part of the problem is that the system often lets people down, hospitals are not equipped to deal with "emergency" cases of mental illness.
  6. A. Nonymous from DarwinVille, United States writes: "We need to take adolescent addiction treatment seriously in this country in order to not only treat - but PREVENT many of these crimes."

    Young people, adolescents in particular, have always had the right to REFUSE treatment, and there is NOTHING their parents/guardians can do about it.

    I hope those young people enjoy their 'rights' while they can.

    The next right they will enjoy is the right to remain silent, in jail.
  7. N G from Ajax, Canada writes: There is a lot of confusion between what is a "mental illness" and the type of insanity that is a defence in a criminal trial. There are a whole range of mental illnesses that do not qualify as a criminal defense and these kids are suffering from those. We may not like them or we may think they are in some way responsible for their actions, but in the end society needs to do something to deal with these kids.

    Psychiatrists in this country are primarily trained in pharmacological approaches and hospitals are ill-equipped to deal with these mental illnesses. This country is so focused on "medical" approaches to mental illness we completely fail to look at alternative community solutions involving social workers, social programs and psychologists. Psychotherapy is an empirically proven adjunct to any pharmaceutical approach and is far less costly and more effective than waiting until kids commit a crime or are admitted to hospitals.

    I can't believe there are no warning signals with these kids and their families. But our communiities completely lack the social programs involving social workers and psychologists who might be able to identify these kids and supply an appropriate intervention.
  8. it's a fact from Canada writes: N G from Ajax, Canada writes:

    I can't believe there are no warning signals with these kids and their families. But our communiities completely lack the social programs involving social workers and psychologists who might be able to identify these kids and supply an appropriate intervention.

    I quite agree with this. I suffered from severe post-partum depression and I won't even go into the difficulties I had getting treatment, but let me tell you it wasn't easy. I had to be persistent, despite the fact that I was suffering from a mental illness. Added to that is the fact that some people (even those close to me) did not want to hear about my struggle and made me feel inadequate as a mother and, frankly weak as a human being. this despite it being completely out of my control.

    I'm guessing there are probably signs but people turn a blind eye.
  9. S Y from Toronto, Canada writes: Anon -

    I agree.
    Remember that it is not the fault of these young people that they have the right to refuse treatment...it is the result of a decision being made by adults....policy-makers. It is also not surprising that so many of them refuse treatment....stopping an addiction is HARD!!! Many adults also refuse treatment and they are much more capable of understanding long-term consequences than are young people (due to their level of psychological and frontal-lobe development).

    Using the YCJA is perhaps one of the only ways to actually mandate a person over the age of 16 into treatment for addiction (and mental illness).....I also agree that parents of these young people need more support....there is a serious gap in services to help parents - and motivated parents are such an incredible resource!

    When I say "we need to take adolescent addiction treatment seriously" - I mean that we as adults need to reflect on the importance and impact of investing in adolescent addiction treatment.
  10. Magnolia Fan from Canada writes: Hey annick aubert from toronto, yes, this is old news, but I think it's one of the most poignant examples of how psychiatry works in this country. The fact that he still hasn't gotten fired speaks volumes.

    I don't begrudge any money spent on any sort of health care. I just don't like people like Paul Garfinkle getting rich off of perpetuating the misery of the most vulnerable members of society.

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