Taneesha Brown told man in video she was starting on a 'journey,' police say

York Regional Police say they have spoken to the man who appeared on a surveillance video speaking to Taneesha Brown near a high school the night she went missing.

25-year-old woman has been missing for a week

A photo of missing Markham woman Taneesha Brown who was last seen on Jan. 12 in the area of McCowan Road and Castlemore Avenue. (York Regional Police)

York Regional Police say they have spoken to the man who appeared on a surveillance video speaking to Taneesha Brown near a high school the night she went missing. 

Investigators say they spoke to the man a few hours after the footage was released to the public yesterday.

The man told police that Brown approached him and asked him how he was doing. According to police, the man asked if she was all right, as she wasn't dressed for the weather conditions. 

The 25-year-old said that she was fine and was starting on a journey, according to a conversation police had with the man. 

Then, the man told police that Brown walked away behind the soccer field.

Gary Miner, duty inspector for York police, told CBC News the man's conversation with Brown does not make the man a suspect. Miner added that the brief interaction did not lead to any more details on where Brown might be. 

Miner said he couldn't comment on their relationship. He added police do not suspect foul play and are simply following up on all leads. 

It's been a week since Taneesha Brown disappeared.

Managing mental health

The 25-year-old woman from Markham has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, according to members of her family, who say she wasn't taking her medication.

Brown is a member of the Nation of Islam, and there are reports that she was relying on her faith to help deal with her illness in lieu of her medication.

Brown's struggles with mental illness are not unique, according to Kwame McKenzie, an international expert on the social causes of mental illness at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

"When we look at mental health issues, only a third of people who have a mental health issue treat them," he told CBC Radio's Metro Morning. "If you go to a general practitioner, you'll be prescribed a pill. That's the culture."

McKenzie also sees many people going non-traditional routes in treating mental health issues.

McKenzie cites Arthur Kleinman, a groundbreaking psychiatrist and anthropologist who developed illness models. That is, separating an illness into a series of different questions: what caused it, what does it mean, how long will it last, am I going to get better, who is the best person to sort it out.

"If you think from the part of the model — what caused it — and you think the cause is spiritual, why would you go to a psychiatrist?" he asked.

McKenzie pointed out that people used to go to religious figures for centuries and more before established psychiatry emerged.

"Every culture has had ways of dealing with psychological distress," he said. "There is some evidence that if you have mild or moderate anxiety or depression, and you go to a traditional healer, they will make you better. But when you get to the more severe cases of mental illness, it becomes harder to help."

Taneesha Brown was last seen wearing a white knee-length dashiki with a white hijab. She is about five feet, five inches tall and weighs about 122 pounds. If you have seen her contact York Regional Police at 1-866-876-5243 ext. 7541 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-tips.