[Fwd: Manitoba Mental Patients/Prison]

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@arcos.org)
Wed, 15 Apr 1998 11:42:47 -0400


Ottawa Citizen April 15, 1998

> Manitoba mental patients end up in prison, on welfare
>
> WINNIPEG (CP) =96 Manitoba's plan to move the mentally ill out of
> institutions and into home care has failed, say caregivers, who point t=
o
> scores of patients on welfare or in prison. "These people haven't gone =
away
> =96 they've gone to the new mental-health institutions, which are in ja=
ils,"
> said Dr. Stanley Yaren, Manitoba's chief forensic psychiatrist. Stony
> Mountain prison outside Winnipeg now has an entire section for people w=
ith
> severe mental disorders, Yaren said.
>
> "It's a psychiatric hospital in a prison. "We may have closed psychiatr=
ic
> beds in hospitals, but we've had to open new ones in prisons." The prob=
lem,
> say mental health workers, began in the late 1980s when the province de=
emed
> institutional care to be costly and unnecessary. Patients were to be
> shifted out of psychiatric beds and integrated into the community. Hund=
reds
> of beds were closed and major mental health centres downgraded. But a
> decade later the promised support services haven't materialized and tho=
se
> that were phased in are not adequate, say agency officials. The result =
is
> that many former patients, if not in jail, are struggling to survive on
> welfare.
>
> A 1994 study by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy and Evaluation fo=
und
> that one-third of all people on social assistance because of permanent
>  disability have mental-health problems.  One of those people is Lauree=
n
> Litman, 33, who sits in her dark inner city apartment, smokes cigarette=
s,
> drinks coffee and stares out the window.  Litman, 33, has a mood disord=
er
> that prevents her from functioning in every-day society.  Her plight is
> more difficult because she lives in one of the city's most crime-infest=
ed
> neighborhoods. "It's a pretty horrible way to live," she says.  But Car=
olyn
> Strutt from the Winnipeg chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Associat=
ion
> said many good services have been established.
> Help lines, safe houses and crisis units were set up in the early 1990s=
 when
> Manitoba gained a reputation as a leader in mental-health reform, Strut=
t
> said.
>
> The process stalled in 1996 when the province began emphasizing the shi=
ft to
> regional health bodies, she said. "Mental health reform was put on the
> back-burner and less and less attention paid to it." And what has becom=
e of
> the patients not on welfare or at Stony Mountain? Bill Ashdown =96 spea=
king
> for the Society for Depression and Manic-Depression of Manitoba =96 sai=
d many
> of them have vanished.
> "We've lost track of these people," said Ashdown. "They're were dismiss=
ed
> into the community with no follow-up." Ashdown's group says a shortage =
of
> treatment programs has created lengthy waiting lists and even increased=
 the
> suicide rate. The society says it has been contacted by 100 people wait=
ing
> for referral to specialized treatment in the last four months alone. "W=
e
> are facing a critical shortage of places we can send people to get help=
,"
> said Ashdown.
>
> Two years ago a research company evaluated the progress of people moved
> out of psychiatric beds. Requests to the Manitoba government for a copy=
 of
> that company's report were denied. The third phase of the master plan s=
its
> ready to go =96 aimed at initiatives to prevent the onset of mental dis=
ease.
> But so far no programs have been implemented, said Strutt.



--
*******************
Graeme Bacque
<http://web.arcos.org/gbacque>
(#2226799 on ICQ)
++Question and challenge *all* human 'authority'++
**************************************************