Saturday, 12 January 2013
Well, a new year and a new...er, um...well...my life is a bit in flux right now so I'll get back to you on that. Anyway, I generally don't make resolutions, seeing as how they tend to remain largely unresolved.
I can, however, resolve this: herein will be a blog about all things mental health. As a clinical psychologist, I have considered mental health issues from a research angle, as well as worked in hospitals, clinics, schools and private practices. I've worked with people struggling with a variety of issues including depression, trauma, anxiety, eating disorders, psychoses, and regular, garden-variety life stuff.
As a wife, daughter, friend and mom (2 girls, ages 7 and 13) I've also watched countless loved ones struggle with mental health issues. Heck, in trying to make my way through life and balance the aforementioned roles (as well as the far less glamourous ones like pet-waste picker-upper and last-minute dinner-maker) I'm also struggling to stay relatively sane (with the emphasis here being on relatively).
Which is why, after more than 40 years (not counting anymore) on planet earth, and a decade of experience as a mental health professional, I'm still astounded that we don't talk more about mental health issues. We don't make mental illness a funding priority - and yet the cost is truly staggering: an estimated 50 billion dollars annually to the Canadian economy (Smetanin, et al, 2011: RiskAnalytica, on behalf of the Mental Health Commission of Canada). And that's not including the human cost which, as anyone who has suffered with a mental health issue can attest, can never be quantified.
Much discussion about youth mental health has happened in my community over the past 3 years. Unfortunately, it took the deaths of several adolescents from high-profile families to make this happen. Fortunately, out of these profound tragedies has come increased awareness and discussion. We have a significant amount of work to do with respect to building systems and funding structures that can address the tremendous need.
So, regardless of your political stripe, I think we can agree that mental health issues need more air-time and more funding. The answers, like many things in life, are complex and varied, and change will require time.
For now, I'll resolve to write about all things mental health. The purpose will be to share ideas, information, helpful links, sage advice from a 7-year old, anecdotes, resources and strategies that I've been lucky enough to inherit from clients and colleagues.
Please do let me know what you think. Suggest ideas for discussion and submit questions. Comment on the good and critique the bad and ugly. I've birthed two children, divorced one husband, hammered out a doctoral dissertation, and been on the receiving end of a 13-year-old girl's wrath. I got this.
Photo by flash photography.ca