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Published on April 29th, 2016 | from CAMH

Mental illness can be life-threatening, but there is hope

By Dr. Katy Kamkar, Clinical Psychologist, Work, Stress and Health Program, CAMH

Originally posted on CP24

Katy-KamkarEarlier this month, we heard the heart-wrenching news that a mother and son in Richmond Hill had died and that there was a connection to mental illness. In a written statement, the Costa family explained that mother and son had a “strong and undeniable bond,” and that “this unspeakable tragedy…was the result of a loving and protective mother trying to save her son from harming himself.”

I was deeply saddened by this tragic news and my thoughts and extend to the Costa family, friends and those impacted by this sad loss my deep sympathies. We must not forget that mental illness can be life-threatening, and that that 1 in 3 Canadians during their lifetime will experience a brain-related illness such as depression, addiction or schizophrenia.

‎The Costa family’s bravery in speaking out publicly about their experience is exceptional. This again highlights the significance of talking about mental illness publicly if we are going to make real change and prevent such loss in the future.

While we often read about the most severe cases of illness and loss, it is also important to remember that most people with mental illness do experience long-term recovery and wellness. Mental illnesses are treatable and people can and do recover their best lives.

If you or your loved one is experiencing mental health challenges, please seek help. There is hope.

This is not to diminish or sidestep the reality that many people, especially young people, struggle to access the care they need, or that we can do better in the treatments that we offer.

Mental illness must start to receive its fair share of funding in relation to physical illness, and in proportion to the impact that mental illnesses have on all of us. We must continue that work so that everyone can access the care they need.

Professionals at CAMH are also working tirelessly to translate breakthroughs in the research lab into new treatment options. We are seeing progress in these arenas and we are dedicated to keeping the momentum going so we can stop mental illness from destroying lives.

Though it’s important to speak publicly about mental illness, it is equally important to reach out when you need help. Here is a list of resources for you and your family.


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5 Responses to Mental illness can be life-threatening, but there is hope

  1. Patricia Forsdyke says:

    Again we have professionals pretending that if there had been this or that there would have been no tragedy. The system is a mess and as for Dr Katie Kamkar recommending First Aid First what in the world is she thinking? I recommend that she reads what Dr Eleanor katz MD PhD recently resigned form SAMHSA says on that subject. Get real for Pete’s sake Dr Kamkar. You should spare advise that does not work .Patricia Forsdyke.

  2. june conway beeby says:

    This kind of sermon to families whose SMI loved ones are dead makes no sense. We all know that the services offered today are not science informed. We continue with old treatments where we are told (in various and twisted ways) that counselling is important and necessary. But in our hearts we know that only scientific brain research will cure the world of chronic brain diseases. Talk does not cure serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and related neurological diseases.

    Kind thoughts and sympathy do nothing to ease the pain of losing a loved one. Words ring hollow without a promise to dedicate time and resources and advocacy for the scientific brain research where hope is only possible.

  3. Kathleen Mochnacki says:

    The Richmond Hill Community is in deep mourning for he two preventable tragedies that affected families who were supporting a loved one with a mental illness. In the second tragedy in February, my friend and colleague, Robert Veltheer was killed by his son who was psychotic. Robert’s wife had been desperately seeking for a psychiatrist but was told that the local ACT team was “capped” despite an influx of mental health funding in April of last year. Where did this funding go? It does not appear to have gone to help the most seriously mentally ill as the Graham Commission had recommended because our loved ones are still dying. Our MP Majid Jowhari has brought attention to these preventable tragedies in parliament. Some are calling for a coroner’s inquiry. More oversight is needed regarding the quality of services and more transparency is needed about where these scarce mental health dollars are spent. I have taken the Mental Health First Aid Program and found the only service it mentions is 911. Furthermore, the link to family support groups provided by the author is to 211 Ontario. Why did she not mention the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario or FAME which provide family support groups? Families travel to different LHINS areas to try and get the treatment that their loved one needs. I get frustrated when I read blogs like this as it appears that the author is unaware of how inadequate the current mental health system is. Families are desperate and we have a system which will not even implement the MHCC Family Guidelines which can be demonstrated to save lives and prevent preventable stress related health problems in the family caregiver. I am sick of the hypocrisy.

  4. Patricia Forsdyke says:

    Well thank goodness others have commented. But the bottom line is that some of the treatments work if they can be given in a safe place and in a timely way. Beds are not there and the Mental Health Act is so flawed that patients can evade treatment at every turn. Families as well as patients are at risk. In addition the general public is often at risk, but when this issue is raised the do-gooders accuse us of fear mongering and they say we are adding to stigma. Sadly anytime there is a major mishap when someone is killed it adds to stigma. It is time for the leaders at CAMH to realistically address the problem. There is too much pandering to the anti-treatment brigades. I read the lady from Richmond Hill’s comment and agree that there should be another inquest . Lives matter … enough to have appropriate care and treatment. There is enough evidence to turn the mess around.

  5. If you really care you’d try anything, mine isn’t so bad. a board certified psychiatrist cured me of a repression, he didn’t report it to the AMA because he didn’t cure all of the schizophrenia. Quote Sigmund Freud: “The key to curing schizophrenia lies in curing repression.” Please visit my April 2016 blog and or read my book Schizophrenia Repression Cured download There brief, autobiographical, they won’t bite, thank you for your time.

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