Mental-health advocacy group frustrated with province's response to list of fixes
How Many Wade group sending open letters to premier, but has received almost no response from government
The organizer of a campaign pushing for improved mental-health services on P.E.I. says work will continue even when the 100-day campaign ends.
The How Many Wade campaign is sharing 100 stories from Islanders over that 100 days, in open letters to Premier Wade MacLauchlan about their struggles and failures while dealing with mental-health services.
Organizer Sarah Stewart-Clark said the group has been growing steadily, with about 3,800 Facebook followers as of now, but with no direct response from the government to the nine requests the group is making to improve mental-health care on the Island.
"I'm not here to say the system is a complete failure," Stewart-Clark told CBC's Island Morning.
"There are absolutely success stories and people getting help. What concerns me is the number of people who are not getting help and the fact that there are such clear trends. So many of the stories I hear are repeated over and over again. And so to me that demonstrates that there is a significant issue and it's not just happening in a one-off situation."
Those stories include people feeling suicidal getting sent to the ER and then turned away, or people sexually abused as children unable to find help as they reach adulthood.
The 100 stories will end on Aug. 14.
Stewart-Clark said she's frustrated that there has been no progress on their nine fixes to the health-care system, eight of which were mentioned in the first open letter:
- More nurses with psychiatric training in the ERs.
- A mobile mental-health crisis team.
- Islanders with mental illness moved out of ERs and into appropriate psychiatric units.
- A child psychiatrist practising in person in Charlottetown.
- A suicide prevention strategy.
- A serious conversation about child molestation and a strategy to help survivors.
- More therapists in the public system, especially those trained in trauma.
- A child advocate.
- A complement of 15 to 17 psychiatrists practising on PEI.
Movement on suicide prevention
The group held a rally at the 50-day mark where MacLauchlan was invited to speak to the first 50 families who had sent letters. The premier couldn't make it, but sent Health Minister Robert Henderson.
Stewart-Clark said Henderson did not speak to the list of items or address the 50 families, instead speaking about the current programs and services the government offers now.
"Our mental-health-care system has been ignored, and so I often think if [Islanders] had another illness, they would not be suffering in this way," Stewart-Clark said. "Because we see other illnesses and treat other illnesses more urgently than we do mental-health illnesses."
Stewart-Clark said the only movement has been on a suicide prevention strategy, but she said it's unfolding slowly and is unlikely to be in the next budget.
In a statement, the Department of Health and Wellenss said government is committed to acting quickly and allocating appropriate resources necessary to carry out a suicide prevention strategy. The department said MacLauchlan included it in his conversation with the prime minister last week.
Stewart-Clark said one result of the campaign has been her ad hoc committee of people who have agreed to continue meeting and to lobby the government about its mental-health concerns.
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With files from Island Morning