Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff Red Deer’s CMHA board chair Graham Barclay and executive director Christine Stewart.

WATCH: Red Deer hospital needs more mental health services, says local CMHA board chair

Two ER chairs for people in mental trauma is inadequate, says Barclay

More mental health services are needed at Red Deer hospital, says the local board chair of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

At a 100th birthday celebration for the Canadian Mental Health Association Thursday, Graham Barclay compared mental health care today to a century ago and concluded the treatment side has improved immeasurably.

“But there’s a lot more we can do in this region,” when it comes to providing mental health services, said Barclay.

He noted there are 30 beds in Red Deer’s emergency department for patients with physical illnesses, compared to two chairs for people in mental health trauma.

“We need more access to treatments, more funding for programs, and more help for people with mental illness in hospitals,” added Barclay.

When the Canadian Mental Health Association started in 1918 (Red Deer’s CMHA office opened in 1965), breaking down societal stigma against mental illness was among the organization’s greatest goals. A century later, the problem is still prevalent.

Red Deer’s CMHA executive-director Christine Stewart said some people are living with serious illnesses, such as bipolar and schizophrenia – but that doesn’t minimize the fact most of us will, during some part of our lives, need help coping.

“Mental wellness is for everyone. We all have to look after our mental wellness,” Stewart said.

Barclay urged those experiencing problems to “stop living in the shadows” and seek help.

George Berry, of Berry Architecture, said he a long-time supporter of the CMHA because knows many people who have been affected by mental health issues. He has also personally sought help for stress.

While it’s particularly hard for men to come forward, Berry said people from all walks of life are affected. A recent study showed 75 per cent of French business owners experienced mental issues – but only half of that number admitted they had a problem, he added.

Of the ones who admitted a problem, only half sought help. Those who continued to seek help until their mental health actually improved was, again, only half of the last number, he said.

With one in five Canadians expected to have mental health issues, Berry challenged the government, private businesses and individuals to donate more towards mental health services.

He will be campaigning to get 100 local groups or businesses to donate $1,000 each to the Wellness Ride. It will be held Aug. 14 from Red Deer to Delburne, one way (50 km ) or return (100 km). Please visit www.wellnessride.ca for more information.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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