Sask. father struggling with PTSD after son's death in foster care

Chris Martell says he has been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ever since his son's death in 2010. Now homeless, Martell said he needs immediate counselling.

Chris Martell homeless, still struggling with death of 2-year-old son

Chris Martell is asking for more counselling services from the provincial government. (Kathy Fitzpatrick/CBC)

Chris Martell said he needs immediate help.

Ever since his son's death in 2010, Martell says he has been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Now homeless, Martell said he needs immediate counselling.

"It's been a nightmare every day," he said. "Reliving it every day."

Martell is the father of Evander Daniels, a 22-month-old boy who drowned in a bathtub while in a Saskatoon-area foster home in June 2010. A large part of the boy's body had been scalded by the hot water. 

While the foster mother was found not guilty of criminal negligence causing death in the case, a Children's Advocate report called the death preventable and asked the Ministry of Social Services to apologize to the boy's parents.

'It's taken over my life'

At the time, Minister of Social Services Donna Harpauer promised to help Martell with the grieving process through counselling. However, Martell said the counselling consisted of a few isolated sessions, and wasn't enough to meet his needs.

"It's gotten to the point where it's taken over my life," he said. "I need to get help and to be there for my kids, and I just don't want to give up. I've almost given up a couple of times."

Martell said he hasn't been able to work because of his mental health problems, adding to his litany of issues.

"I need that help. I need that therapy," he said. "Hopefully, they can respond to me this week or next week and get me some help."

Social Services responds

The child and family program with the Ministry of Social Services said they cannot speak about specific cases but instead in general terms about practice. 

"When parents or children in care, for whom we have involvement with, request connection to counselling this is something that we can and do facilitate. This may be as simple as providing compensation for the counselling or it may be assisting the individuals in connecting with counsellors in their local communities," the statement said. 

That facilitation includes providing individuals with names and contact information of counsellors in the community. In many instances, Social Services will pay for the cost of the sessions, the statement said. 

"It is the responsibility of the individual to make those connections with the counsellor and to determine which service is a best fit for them. We ask that our clients let us know if they encounter any challenges, and we will endeavour to find new options or update their recommended support plan."

Lawsuit launched

Last year, Martell launched a lawsuit against the province, but it has stalled due to Martell's issues. His lawyer said Martell needs more help than that he has been given.

"PTSD is something that needs a lot more care than just once a month counselling appointment," said lawyer Josephine de Whytell. "He had been promised by the Ministry, when the Children's Advocate report came out, that they would be there for him, that they would help him."

While Martell has sought help with elders and others in the community, he hopes he can get help soon.

"I'm at my end right now," he said. "Let's hope I can get help from them soon, because a year is a long time."

With files from Saskatoon Morning