Ignoring the mentally ill

Letter writer Sophia Zeng is asking for special hospitals for mental health patients. We had one, it’s called Riverview.

Eliminating hundreds of psychiatric care beds was supposed to remove the stigmatization of mental illness, but the mentally ill just ended up on the streets. In l998, the then NDP government announced a $125-million, seven-year mental health plan. It never happened. Then health minister Penny Priddy said that although the plan had been announced, it actually had not been in the budget. By 2001, the last year of the NDP government, the over 800 lost beds had still not been replaced.

It was well-meant but naive to think that mentally ill people could simply fend for themselves. Many of them need constant supervision and medication needs to be regulated.

Back in the l990s, I had a friend who suffered from mental illness and spent some time at Riverview. I visited him more than once. He received the help he needed in a place where, I am sure, improvements could have been made, but was a far cry from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

We have done those with mental illness no favour and we have been ignoring them ever since.

Doris Darvasi, Surrey

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