Let's look at this realistically.

Mental Health Week

The first week of May. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association: It is designed as a celebration of mentally healthy lifestyles and positive attitudes, as well as a source of information and support.

According to CMHA Peel's web site:
For over 50 years, the Canadian Mental Health Association - Peel Branch (CMHA/Peel) has been a pioneer in providing services for people with mental illness and educating Canadians about mental health issues. As the leading client-driven, community-based mental health organization serving the Region of Peel, we are innovative partners in proactively strengthening individual support, and developing a responsive mental health system.
CMHA/Peel champions good mental health for everyone and supports the full participation of those with mental illness and addictions in the life of the community. In addition to providing a variety of mental health and addictions services, we are committed to community development, mental health awareness and addressing the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.

While we like to think that there's a "system" in place to "help" people with mental illness, the reality is much different. What we have is our government paying "lip service" to "protecting the most vulnerable" and "helping", while making the lives of those forced to avail themselves of the supposed "help" as miserable as possible, even going to the extent of breaking the law to do so. This has created a "spin off" industry, in the private sector, to absorb excess funds and, apparently, provide employment opportunities for many unable to find positions in sheltered workshops or incapable of handling those positions.

The hundreds; perhaps, thousands of organizations and agencies, forming this industry, generally:
- have "a wide variety of programs"
- have "partnerships"
- "offer referrals"
- rely heavily on loquaciousness, "buzz words" and jargon
- use really neat; primarily, "action word" acronyms to identify their "programs"
- publish a huge amount of "literature"
- have a few "poster children"
- apparently, suffer from "delusions of adequacy"
- do not deal well with criticism
- spend money "like drunken sailors"

- If you count the "wide variety of programs", you'll likely find that there really aren't many and, if you investigate those there are, you'll probably find they're of little if any use. The very few programs, which are helpful, run out of money very quickly and/or have long waiting lists.
- In many cases, funding decisions are based on the number of people being "helped" and the perception of the number of people an organization or agency is "helping" reflects on their reputation and credibility. These organizations and agencies form "partnerships", with one another, and "offer referrals", to each other, in order to increase their "head counts". This "client sharing" is unlikely to be of any benefit to the client. More probably, it wastes their time and increases their sense of frustration.
- Saying the same old thing in a new way leads some to believe that something different is being said. Using words, not in the vocabulary of most, and "proprietary" language makes what's being said more difficult to understand and reduces the risk of people realizing it's just repetition. Additionally, some use "big words" in an effort to give the impression of intelligence.
- The use of "action word" acronyms, to identify "programs", gives the impression that the program actually does something.
- There's a verse, in the Christian Bible; Matthew chapter 6, verse 7 that reads, in part: "...they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking". This may account for the huge amount of "literature", published by these organizations and agencies, as, if you read it, the actual information contained doesn't come close to justifying the horrendous number of trees lost to produce the paper used.
- The full-colour, high-gloss pamphlets, which these organizations and agencies seem to favour, cause one to wonder if they're using the "package" to distract attention from the "product".
- Many of these organizations and agencies employ "poster children"; supposedly, clients in their "programs" who are doing well, presumably, as a result of being in their "programs". These "poster children" are used as examples of what fine jobs the organizations and agencies are doing, "helping" people. Based on my experience, I suspect these "poster children" are not representative of the majority of clients in their programs.
- The organizations and agencies, I've dealt with, have all claimed to have "helped" yet, when requested to, none have given specifics.
- When confronted with the fact that they haven't "helped", these organizations and agencies have responded by either ignoring the complaint or, in a couple of cases, attacking like a rabid pit bull.
- It's a good thing these organizations and agencies are "not for profit" as they all seem to spend unnecessarily and spend too much, when spending is necessary.

The articles Mental Health Matters and Ontario Disability "Support" Program, partially, detail some of my efforts to "get help", over the past few years. While my experience is limited, it's neither unique nor even uncommon.

Sadly, in my opinion, based on years of experience attempting to "get help", we haven't so much a "system" to "help" as an infestation of parasites, sucking up millions of dollars in charitable and public funds, which could be used to provide real "help".

GYFHAS Hogtown, Ontario, Canada E-mail: