It's Mental Health Awareness Week.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada has released what they call the first mental health strategy for Canada. There's even some talk that something might be listened to by the federal government, though I don't see how that would happen. Even with the huge costs of mental health in the workplace that affects the bottom line of banks and oil companies. Stranger shit has happened.
Pauline is off in Philly at the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting. Lots of talk about the upcoming DSM-V of course, and apparently more than a few overly academic researchers who can't see the (in practice with real patients) forest for the (my narrow area of expertise data) trees. But apparently she's picked up a few scrunchy brains from the piles of schwag.
And I read Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) from Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) who I'd never heard of before but I'm very glad I now know. Funniest shit I've read in a long time. And on her blog, she also has some of the most helpful and inspiring things to say to those affected by depression and other mental health issues. If you or someone you know is affected by mental health issues (and if you think you're not, you're in complete fucking denial) you owe it to yourself to listen to what she has to say.
Incidentally, she brings up the role of both therapy and meds. One nice thing is here in Canada psychiatrists (and other doctors) can bill for therapy, not just doing meds; in the USA, not as much, since most of the HMO's won't cover it. Therapy is a huge part of Pauline's practice, but this is still rare for psychiatrists even here. For most people, they'll need to pay a psychologist out of pocket. There are some community clinics etc. that are funded to provide psychological support, but not enough. For far too many people who could really benefit, the only option they can afford is whatever their doctor can provide, and all too often, it's just meds. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big believer that the right medication can make a world of difference, but it's often only part of the best solution. Better, affordable access in Canada to high-quality therapy for people with mental health issues would do a world of good.
There's still way too much stigma, misinformation, and way-to-hard-to-find good information out there. Lots of confusion, and I know talking with and hearing about many of Pauline's patients, too much frustration. It's fucking ridiculous that this is still the situation today on such a broad scale.
But it's also very hard to figure out how to help without just contributing to the noise.
Kudos to all the mental health practitioners out there making a difference one person at a time, and kudos to people like Jenny who can reach a larger audience and are making a difference that way.