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Guest editorial — Mental health issues are crucial
The varied and heated response to a suggestion that Riverview should never be re-opened shows that people do care about mental health, some of them negatively and others with deep compassion and understanding.
There will always be a need for secure facilities to house patients who pose a serious risk to themselves or the community. While it is highly unlikely that such secure facilities can be affordably situated in every community, locally-based programs should be available for the majority of those suffering from mental illness who pose no such threats.
Successive NDP and Liberal provincial governments have largely ignored the original commitment to provide community-based mental health programs following the closure of Riverview. That systemic failure is now manifesting itself with an appalling growth in mental health problems in our communities.
For most mentally ill people, large warehouse-type facilities such as Riverview are not the answer.
Almost every day there are homeless people wandering our downtown streets, many of them suffering from various mental health problems or the downside of substance abuse, but few of them demonstrate behaviour that would indicate they need to be locked up, medicated and forgotten in some medieval complex such as Riverview.
Finding a solution for the increase in mental health issues is not going to be easy, but standing idly by and doing nothing is only going to lead to greater tragedies than the simple matter of unacceptable optics in our neighbourhoods and downtown business district.
Lower Mainland mayors may have been on the wrong track when they suggested the re-opening of Riverview, but they did bring the looming tragedy to the forefront.
The ball is now in the court of the provincial government, but our MLAs are not likely to do much about it because any solution will cost huge dollars at a time when every departmental budget is being slashed.
The tired old explanation about the government’s lack of ability to fund decent programs and facilities just doesn’t wash in the face of the same government’s ballyhoo about our golden future.
— Maple Ridge News