Frustration with Cold Lake mental health services
doctor may as well have put a loaded gun in my hand . . . and said what you have to do, said Andrea Head Lahey about her recent experience at the Cold Lake Health Care Centre emergency room.
Head Lahey, who was diagnosed with clinical depression, went to the ER, hoping to get some help when she was at a low point with her illness. However, the doctor she saw was not sympathetic.
if you ever been in that kind of position, where you already feel like an idiot. You embarrassed. You don want to be there, admitting, hey, I don want to live anymore. And to have somebody be so abrasive with you, it makes you feel 10 times worse. Head Lahey, however, was hesitant to follow the doctor advice since he wasn as familiar with her medical history as the nurse practitioner she sees regularly. (Like many residents of Cold Lake, Head Lehay doesn have access to a family doctor so she sees a nurse practitioner instead).
When she questioned the doctor plan, she was told to call mental health on Tuesday.
Mental Health Services not ideal
Jeff Bentley, a local mental health advocate, said the hours of the Mental Health Services should be extended to include weekends and evenings.
there is not enough staff. There are not enough doctors. There are no psychiatrists, said Bentley, who has been lobbying the government at all levels to improve Cold Lake mental health care services.
Bentley said the location of Mental Health Services is also a problem.
is no privacy. It right off the main elevators on the second floor,
so when you go to check in, someone you know might see you.
He had been receiving counselling from a social worker at Mental Health Services and was able to manage his symptoms from the disorder with his counsellor help.
Bentley had gotten himself to the point where he only had to see her every six weeks.
me, that was like my security blanket, said Bentley. could look in the calendar if I was having a rough time and be like: I will be getting help on that date.
couldn see my counsellor anymore because someone who had never met me decided I couldn said Bentley. didn matter what my own councillor thought.
He received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his work with veterans in the mental health field.
As for continuing to manage his own symptoms of PTSD, Bentley works with a psychiatrist in St. Paul and receives counselling support over the phone from another psychiatrist in Red Deer, which is less than ideal.
Although Bentley has been able to make due with what is available, he said there are others who are struggling. Over the last two years, Bentley has had two friends commit suicide.
Limited counselling services in Cold Lake
Out side of the Mental Health Services in Cold Lake, there are two private practice councillors available at Supporting Wellness Psychological and Family Services that operate out of the Family and Community Support Services building.
But some people, especially those with limited extended health benefits through an employer, find private practice fees prohibitively expensive, as they can be more than $150 per hour.
Military mental health screenings to come to Cold Lake
Because of the limited health services in Cold Lake, the Canadian military deems Cold Lake as semi isolated.
In order to be posted to Cold Lake, military members and their families have to have their medical files reviewed for any serious issues that cannot be treated in Cold Lake. They also have to meet with a social worker to assess their mental health.
Depending on the family member mental health condition, the military member and his or her family may be denied a posting to Cold Lake because of the lack of mental health services within the city. Such a decision can be career limiting to the military member.
Mental health works not available for suicide prevention discussion
FCSS organized a candlelight vigil to remember those lost to suicide on Sept. 10.
This was done to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.
Most of the participants had lost someone to suicide, and one woman had tried committing suicide herself. As a result, she was clinically dead for 30 minutes before being revived.
Organizers wanted to have a mental health worker present to facilitate a supportive discussion with the participants following the vigil, because remembering a loved one to suicide can bring up intense feelings, but no one was available to facilitate that discussion.