Letters – Our readers write: Autum 2009

Out of the Shadows Thank you for addressing the abysmal lack of funding for mental illness in Dufferin County. Not only was Jeff Rollings’ article, “Shadowland” (summer/09), a well-researched, well-documented and appropriately titled article, but Shelagh Armstrong’s illustration has created a truly wonderful visual image of the suffering associated with mental health issues. So few people know…

September 15, 2009 | | Autumn 2009 | Back Issues | Departments | Letters, Our Readers Write

Out of the Shadows

Thank you for addressing the abysmal lack of funding for mental illness in Dufferin County. Not only was Jeff Rollings’ article, “Shadowland” (summer/09), a well-researched, well-documented and appropriately titled article, but Shelagh Armstrong’s illustration has created a truly wonderful visual image of the suffering associated with mental health issues.

So few people know what mental disorders are like unless they experience them in their own family. To appear as a normal and whole human being, yet to have such turmoil going on inside the head, makes it so mystifying.

Headwaters Hospital is not only underfunded in supporting those suffering from mental illness, there is not a separate entrance through which those in crisis may enter the emergency department. As this is most often the first point of contact for families experiencing a mental health crisis, it disallows the patient the measure of dignity allowed to those with a physical illness.

I believe that I would be correct in saying that Dr. Geoff Daniel, who serves our community as a geriatric psychiatrist, is only allowed three days a month at Trellis to service patients in the wide geographical area in which he practises.

While the stigma of mental illness may never leave or change, we might do well to consider the fact that mental illness knows no socio-economic boundaries and that we, as humans, are all vulnerable to the possibility of mental illness happening in our family at some point in our lives.

Unless it happens to you, it’s easy to think that it’s someone else’s problem.

Sandy Small Proudfoot, Hockley Valley
Jeff Rollings’ article, “Shadowland,” delving into the deficiencies of mental health treatment in our district, is very accurate.

I base my opinion on personal family experience.

One issue that his article did not delve into and which plays a significant role in the mental health service gap is the almost non-existent training that medical doctors and nurses receive as part of their professional education.

I do not know the specifics, but have spoken to health care professionals who attest to the fact that minimal information on mental health problems and issues are included in the formal curriculum for doctors and nurses in Ontario. It is no wonder then that when people come to them in the emergency rooms or walk-in clinics, they do not know what to look for to properly diagnose or deal with those patients.

I know of individuals who were told to their faces by some general practitioners in the Dufferin-Caledon service area that they would not accept patients with a history of mental illness.

To many people in the health care industry, doctors and nurses alike, mental illness is not an illness at all, and they would just as soon dismiss such cases and send them home to be someone else’s problem.

On the other hand, there are some enlightened general practitioners who recognize mental illness as a real illness that warrants attention, like cancer or any other serious illness, and who take appropriate and prompt action to get proper treatment for their patients. Indeed, in our family’s case, it was our family doctor’s enlightened attitude that led to a positive solution over time.

I hope that one of the things those in the field are striving for is to include more formal training in mental health issues for our doctors and nurses across the country.

Graham Burke, Orangeville
Thank you for Jeff Rollings’ enlightening article, “Shadowland,” on mental illness and the needs in Dufferin County.

As a child psychologist, I would like to highlight the connection between mental health in childhood and adulthood. It is no coincidence that the two most common adult disorders – depression and anxiety – are also the most prevalent conditions in childhood and adolescence.

But both of these disorders are highly treatable (the earlier the better) through available interventions. These interventions are not limited to psychopharmacology (i.e., drugs), but include effective treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy.

Without treatment, though, these childhood conditions often persist into adulthood (and sometimes worsen), resulting in tremendous associated human and financial costs. The challenge is to match the right mental health service with the right provider and to deliver these to the right person at the right time.

We need a mental health care system that not only increases the supply of currently funded services, but also mobilizes the existing range of mental health care resources and providers available to us.

In response to the challenges of service delivery, the stigma of mental illness, and other issues, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (mhcc) has been established. I invite your readers to learn more about the mhcc at www.mentalhealthcommission.ca. The mandate of the mhcc has implications not only for the national agenda, but also for local needs.

Patricia Peters, Ph.D., C. Psych., Erin

Laughing and Crying

As skillfully crafted as are many of the articles in In the Hills, seldom do they make me either weep…or laugh out loud. In the recent summer issue, Ken Weber’s “Suffer the Little Children” accomplished the former and Lynette Wallace’s account of her first solo motorbike tour, the latter. All in a single issue. Well done!

Heather Sabbagh, Caledon

First Time

You featured my book Riding With Attitude a few years ago. I just read Lynette Wallace’s story about her first motorbike tour (“My First Time on a Solo Motorbike Tour,” summer/09). I loved the article, and would like her to know so.

I ride long trips because I started in the ’fifties when I was too young to know better. I can’t imagine the courage to start at age fifty. I rode the same roads as Lynette, at about the same time, as I was doing a month long journey to Newfoundland last summer. I can attest to the wet conditions. My journal is 10,000 words.

Anyway, it sounds like Lynette could use a few pointers about staying dry. I put on 7,219 kilometres during my ride and I stayed dry except for my face.

Please extend my congratulations to Lynette for a great article.

Don Norris, Biker From Bolton

Tornado Lane of memories

I enjoyed the story about tornadoes. I remember the size of the hailstones that fell in Orangeville in 1985. We didn’t know there had been a tornado until the next day, and my mother was mortified because she had sent my younger brother into the backyard with an umbrella to collect a sample of the hailstones for our freezer! I didn’t realize the extent of the damage in Grand Valley until seeing the photos you printed.

Janet Clare, Caledon

I just picked up a copy of your summer issue and, as always, found it well put together and informative, with interesting articles and attractive ads. I really liked the dramatic picture on the cover and the headline: Big Weather.

I lived near Grand Valley when the tornado passed through. I wasn’t quite as close to that funnel cloud, but did see it. And similar to the farmers in your picture, I chose to stay outside with my horses, and not seek shelter. We were fortunate to only receive minor wind damage at our farm. I often tell people that I used to live on “The Path”(of the tornadoes in Grand Valley)!

Audrey Wood, Orangeville

Rose-coloured Arrow?

You are undoubtedly correct that the closing of the Arrow project was the worst economic disaster to hit this region, but it is unfair to place the blame on Mr. Diefenbaker’s shoulders alone. He was certainly the person who cancelled the project, but had he not had his surprising political win in 1957, the Liberals, under Lester Pearson, as history reveals, would have cancelled the program themselves.

Fifteen thousand employees to build five airplanes in almost ten years?

I enjoy your magazine.

Fred Eaton, O.C., O.Ont.

Passing along

My mother passed along your magazines to me, and I am very glad she did. Great stories, very interesting and informative. Thank you!

I have just read your “Day of Reckoning” (spring/09) about the long aggregate controversy in Caledon and want to pass it along to a friend who has been fighting Dumpsite 41 in Simcoe County for twenty-five years! A dump site scheduled for one of Ontario’s most pristine waters? You know, the solution to pollution is dilution – I say with disgust! Yes, into yours and my drinking water!

Michelle Genser, By e-mail

When I read Barb Perkins’ letter in your summer issue of In The Hills I went to my collection to pull the 2005 publication to copy for my 88- year-old aunt. Her mother, my grandmother, was a Home Child.

Absolutely love In the Hills and have all the copies I have ever received.

Cheri Cowan, Caledon

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