Mental health being ignored

BY WENDY HUENUL-VALDES

Trying to get better in the mental health unit of Grand River Hospital is hard when the only thing you have to stare at is late-80’s cafe style coffee art. The walls are painted a sad brown latte colour that doesn’t brighten anyone’s mood. And God forbid they check you in on a weekend because you won’t get any answers or real help until Monday.

Canada’s health-care system is failing patients with mental health problems. The common room in the mental health unit at Grand River Hospital is dismal, making it hard for patients to rest, which is the main goal of the patient’s stay in the unit.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) reports, “While mental illness accounts for about 10 per cent of the burden of disease in Ontario, it receives just 7 per cent of health-care dollars. Relative to this burden, mental health care in Ontario is underfunded by about $1.5 billion.”

This is becoming a huge issue with death by suicide being the second leading cause of death in Canada. If the hospital, a place people go to get better, can’t provide all of the options for someone with a mental health problem, who does? The lack of help leads many people to stay silent and live their lives undiagnosed. Not knowing where to get help is debilitating to someone who suffers from depression or anxiety. Imagine if people who broke their leg didn’t know where they could go to get help – it’s apparent how this would be a problem. Why isn’t mental health treated the same?

In Canada the total number of 12- to 19-year-olds at risk of developing depression is 3.2 million.

It’s unfortunate that at such a stressful time for students there hasn’t been any real discussion on how to lighten the load. Between school, needing to work to pay rent and working at a co-op job, students are drowning in responsibilities and unable to find a proper place to rejuvenate. According to CMHA, of Canadians who reported having a mental health need in the past year, a third stated that their needs were not fully met. And only half of Canadians who experience major health episodes receive “potentially adequate care.”

We are in midterms now, things are starting to wrap up and the pressure of school is really starting to become the hum in the halls. If you are suffering in silence, get help. If you are a Conestoga College student, Counselling Services can help you – and all it takes is booking an appointment. You can contact them at 519-748-5220, ext. 3360.

About Spoke

Spoke Online is produced weekly during the school year by Conestoga College second-year journalism print students, faculty adviser Christina Jonas and new media technologist Michael Toll.