The deeply sad story that unfolded in B.C. Supreme Court last week underscores both the seriousness of mental illness and the challenges of managing it.
When 28-year-old Jordan Ramsay murdered his father and permanently injured his mother in November 2011, he was highly delusional and under medicated for his schizophrenia.
Deemed not criminally responsible for the fatal attack by the ruling judge, Ramsay now resides in Coquitlam's Forensic Psychiatric Institute, awaiting evaluation as to his next step in our justice and health systems.
Even with close supervision and care, our mentally ill loved ones can slip through the cracks. And far too many more are living out of reach of the system entirely, as evidenced by our homeless population, many of whom struggle with both mental illness and addiction simultaneously.
If we hope to improve psychiatric care in this province, we first have to overcome the stigma we attach to mental illness.
Where it comes to physical ailments, British Columbians have a vast, heavily funded system to turn to.
This is because we, as a society, don't see these as the fault of the sufferer, but rather as mishaps that could befall any one of us.
But when the illness is in a person's mind, we tend to turn away; we see it as a source of shame that is somehow the fault of the one trying to overcome it.
The inadequacies of our system, and the consequent depth of the problem, are a direct result of this view.
If we shifted our thinking, if we put the kind of resources toward mental illness that we put toward physical injuries, we might avoid countless tragic outcomes.
© Copyright 2013