Thursday, 3 June 2010

Preventing Tragic Outcomes Starts with Us

There was a tragic story in the Halifax newspaper, the Chronicle Herald this week. The story was both new and unfortunately very old at the same time. The gist of the story was that a young man who had killed a woman a number of months ago was found not criminally responsible because, as the story states: “the teen was psychotic when he killed a woman in February”.

Although there are few details of what happened in the paper, it seems as if the young man had been experiencing psychotic symptoms for some time prior to the event. Apparently, “his family had been trying to get him psychiatric help”.

What a shame. How tragic. How sad. How ironic, that Nova Scotia has one of the nation’s best first onset psychosis programs. What happened? What is the back story?

The Province of Nova Scotia spends about 3.5% of its annually recurring health care budget on mental health, and a fraction of that on child and youth mental health services. This is in spite of the knowledge that about 3/4th of all mental disorders arise prior to the age of 25 years and increasing realization that early intervention and effective treatment may prevent substantial long and short term negative outcomes and yes, maybe in this case would have prevented such a tragic outcome.

I for one am getting sick and tired of reading these stories and writing these blogs. I have decided to run for federal office in Halifax in part to make mental health a national health agenda item. This tragic case should not have happened. Why is it taking so long to do so little that can help so many so much?


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