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June 24, 2010

Because I DO NOT ask forgiveness for being BLUNT

There is a need for strong and vocal peer-directed mental health advocacy, by those of us who are unafraid to state that a shovel is an implement for turning the soil.  You wouldn’t take a spade to a soufflé, of course, but neither would you try to dig a well with a spoon.  Dig along with me.


Clinical psychology, psychiatry and related disciplines are arts as much as—and sometimes more than—they are sciences.  For all that they rely on a medical vocabulary and pharmacopeia, their premises and research techniques are amongst the fuzziest of the Social Sciences.  Recognizing this, the sufferer can be empowered: for life, too, is an art.  There is a need for sufferers to be made aware of the fundamental nature of their treatments (conventional or otherwise) if these are not to be misunderstood, and also if these are to be employed to their full benefit.


It’s all semantics.  Though I use the terms for the sake of convenience, I am not a “Client” or “Consumer”: Mental health is not a fungible commodity to be obtained through a commercial transaction.  Obviously I rely upon (yes, employ) the services of any number of professionals–from physicians, lay therapists, housing workers, pharmacists and so on, right down to the authors of books on meditation and the shop clerks who sell them–but to be described in terms that reduce me to a purchaser of goods and services is not merely vulgar, it misguidedly sidesteps the fundamental reason why I should seek these goods and services at all.

Note, too, that I happen to HAVE a condition.  The condition does not define me in my entirety.  It is merely one element in my make-up.  The fact that it is a noticeable element and sometimes disruptive to my peace of mind and the peace of mind of those around me does not mean that it is the sum of who and what I am.

Because I SUFFER

I acknowledge that I have a condition that interferes with my sense of well-being.  It is at times a painful, and causes me much suffering.  Moreover, my suffering extends to my able-bodied and mentally healthy friends and family members.  They, too, by extension are sufferers.  Suffering is not inherently noble, nor is it inherently ennobling.  It is simply a fact of life, and must be managed as well as possible.


…and because services are frequently inadequate.  Regional underfunding; stigma not only from outside but also from within the health care professions; misdiagnosis; lack of physician or lay therapist resources; the glacial progress of research and diffusion of treatment options; logistical barriers to localized treatment; economic, physical, cognitive, sexual, religious and cultural factors; and garden-variety incompetence are just some of the problems faced by people requiring access to mental health care.  They all mean that there will be a role for an advocate–a person who will keep abreast of mental health issues and culture, serve as a resource for the resource-less, and a mouthpiece for the silent.  Your lay practitioner or physician cannot be guaranteed to provide you with all the information or tools you may need–in most cases, he or she cannot, and in some cases, that is not even his or her job.

Because there is an ENEMY, and it is COMPLACENCY–and because COMPLACENCY BEGINS AT HOME

Grey-Bruce Health Services underperforms right across the board, in all health care indexes.  Mental health issues have a tougher go than the rest no matter the jurisdiction, and consequently mental health care in Grey-Bruce is lamentably inadequate.  It’s time for a wheel to squeak loudly enough to get the grease.

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