Mental health system must change


I’m a father of five children and in the past five years we have been effected by five suicides and two accidental deaths in this community.

I commend you for writing the article (Dad questions mental health services after suicide, Cochrane Eagle Dec. 14) as this subject is becoming a huge problem as I have seen and experienced significant problems with our mental health care system. What they say they provide and what they actually provide is completely different. The system is very hard to access and the waiting time to see somebody is way to long. Even after the summer where three youth died they said that action would be taken and as of today nothing has been done. Especially in regards to prevention very little is being provided, even the courses available do not provide answers as to what we need to do as a community to help our youth.

The mental heath community has done so much damage toward connecting with our youth that it is going to take a lot of work to heal that relationship. The biggest problem is that we do not listen and understand our children and they are aware of this. Zackary’s behaviour in the hospital was a perfect example of that. Our youth are very well connected via all the social media and having talked to my children they all say the same that there is no help for them as they are not willing to listen to them. I have heard of cases where they brought a youth to the hospital to have to wait for up to 22 hours in a waiting room only to be sent home?? What health systems allows a child to have to wait for eight hours, is that what we can expect from our caregivers??

Our youth are our future and we need to take these problems seriously and start to listen and understand our future. The challenge I have is with whose responsibility is it to help our youth and I feel we as parents, schools and community helpers need to come together and provide answer outside of what is being done today as it is clearly not working. There is still way too much stigma being created around suicide by the people who profess that they are the ones with the answers.

No child should have to experience what my children already have gone through in a community like Cochrane.

I do not want to sound negative but we need to change and learn to connect with our children as they are our future. I have come to realize that the way my parents raised me was not working with our children, not that my parents did not do a good job, but the reality we live in today has changed and the same might be said for a mental health system that is more than a 100 years old – maybe it needs a change. There are so many wonderful people working very hard in the mental health system and are unable to get results because of how the system is designed. The staff turn over and burn out are proof of that.

We need to start talking openly and in a supportive way with our youth and listen to what they have to say. Peter Tilma


About Author

Cochrane Eagle