A grieving mother is calling on the province to do more to help people with mental health problems.
Brenda Lee MacDonald’s 20-year-old son took his life last January and MacDonald wonders if things might have turned out differently if expert help had been available to come to her home in the middle of the night.
MacDonald is fighting for a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week mobile mental health crisis team.
She’s presented Minister of Health Leo Glavine with a petition bearing 1,100 signatures.
MacDonald says her son Christopher Bagnell suffered from anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.
On the night he killed himself, MacDonald says, the mental health professionals who’d been working with him “weren’t on duty until the next morning. I let him go down to his room and I let him be and by the time they arrived the next morning, it was too late.”
A mental health worker found Bagnell.
‘They can feel the stigma’
MacDonald says has heard from many families since then.
“There’s kids that will not go to the hospital because they don’t want to sit and wait for eight hours,” she says. “They could be in an episode… and people staring at them. They can feel the stigma.”
Glavine says he has spoken with MacDonald and others in Cape Breton and “brought those concerns to the health authority as they are responsible for service delivery.”
Dr. Linda Courey, Nova Scotia Health Authority’s director of mental health and addiction services, says all mental health services are being reviewed, including the need for a 24-hour mobile crisis team.
“There is no way that we will ever be able to draw a straight line between suicide rates and the existence of a mobile crisis team,” she says.
“What we try to do is to identify people who are at risk and to reduce the risk where ever we possibly can.”
“[Suicide is] hitting our youth and we have to try and figure out why and how to fix this. But we do need a unit. We just need more doctors and more help,” MacDonald says.