In a past life I was a foster parent to some pretty special kids. They needed care and routine, an established home and someone who could provide for them, a meal on the table every night, and a person to talk to when the decisions they were making might not have been positive or pro social.
That person was me.
These kids ranged in ages, were from all socio economic backgrounds, and had all types of personalities.
But they all deserved kindness, understanding, and love.
Often there were children who struggled with mental illness and we would work closely with them to get them to psych appointments, get established on a med routine, and see that they managed in their everyday life.
But as with any illness that didn’t always go as planned.
Sometimes we had to take drastic measures.
This would be when we call in the police to assist, for safety purposes, and transport the child to hospital.
My expectation was that the child be treated with respect, understanding, and patience during the transition. This was a confusing time not only because they were away from their family but because they were dealing with a mental illness which transforms a person, taking them into a place that can be uncomfortable, dark, and lonely.
I was often disappointed with the services the children received.
Zero compassion, threats of violence, acts of violence, name calling, handcuffs. All to transport a child to a place of safety?
“You are being arrested under the mental health act, but you know that being the nut bar that you are.”
Is this how we are dealing with our mentally ill?
No wonder so many suffer in silence.
1 in 5 Canadians suffer with a Mental Illness. Mental Illness does not discriminate by colour, race, gender, or age. And we are doing a disservice to our communities by not training our police services and hospitals to effectively assist those in need.
Reaching out to help only takes a second, a kind word, a hand, a sentence. It’s a simple as listening and understanding where to refer.
Training the appropriate people in this could save lives.
Mental Illness is not Contagious.
Education is the answer.