Not enough is being done to address mental health issues and addictions in Manitoba.
That was the overwhelming message at the Winnipeg Vital Signs community consultation inside The University of Winnipeg’s Richardson College for the Environment and Science Complex on Monday evening.
Those who attended—many of whom work in the mental health field—outlined the problems society faces regarding mental health, but few offered solutions.
“It’s a long haul to get any help,” said Raymond Cornish, who works as a chaplain for the RCMP. “We had a young man who tried to commit suicide three or four times. He went to the Health Sciences Centre, and as soon as he could lift up his head, he’s out of there.”
Cornish added that with waitlists so long, young kids routinely have to wait several months before seeing mental health professionals, including both psychologists and psychiatrists. Then after seeing a professional, there’s often no next step for the patient.
“It’s like a black hole,” he said.
Cathy Moser, a private clinical psychologist, said more emphasis should be put on coping skills for young people.
“Recognizing when you’re feeling down, recognizing when you’re feeling anxious, what are some of the things you can do, like exercise, meditation, deep breathing. All of those are coping skills,” she said.
Susan Cameron, who worked as a counsellor for a non-profit organization, believes social media has impacted our mental state.
“We’re not very good at talking to one another,” she said. “If a person is constantly on their device to the point where they’re not interacting at the supper table or in the car on the way home from school, it’s really hard to build relationships.”
Sean Miller, who was part of the evening’s main panel, said funding for mental health is still lacking in Manitoba.
“Funding for mental healthcare is quite low in our province,” he said. “A stat that I remember reading is that there is one care provider for 30,000 people. If you look at our province, there’s a big shortage of those types of professionals.”
Miller added that he wants to see more collaboration between services, including medical professionals, school guidance counsellors, and other members of the community.
“Recovery is a journey, it’s not a single point in time,” he said. “There’s a whole bunch of social determinants of health, it’s not just what medical treatment provides.”
Perhaps Harriet Zimmer, a guidance counsellor in the school system, summed up the night best.
“Projects like this are terrific, but is there somebody from the government listening,” she asked. “Where is it going from here?”
Winnipeg’s Vital Signs® initiative, a project of The Winnipeg Foundation, is a check-up on the vitality of our community. As part of Vital Signs®, the first in a series of Vital Conversations was held on Mon. Jan. 23, focused on Mental Health, Addictions and Healing.
For more stories on this event, go to “Digging deep on mental health and well-being“. You can also view a full recording or a recap of highlights from the discussion by visiting The Winnipeg Foundation’s Facebook page.