Pubdate: Sun, 29 Aug 2004
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Susan Harrison
Note: Author is Director, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health


Re: Detox centre saves lives and souls, Aug. 18.

I applaud writer Jim Pickard for his courage in sharing his personal
struggle with substance use to underline the pending health crisis
facing citizens in Ottawa if the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care
does not provide adequate funding soon for the detox centre.

We rarely see or hear stories in the media about the chronic
underfunding of the substance-abuse treatment system in Ontario (or
the community mental-health system, for that matter). People living
with addiction and mental health issues don't often tell their stories
publicly because they have experienced neglect, prejudice, and

We don't hear about their journeys from despair and broken lives
toward the first glimmers of hope for a better future, to recovery or
to satisfying lives as contributing members of the community within
the limits associated with their disabilities.

For more than a decade there has been no increase in base funding for
community addiction and mental-health services. We believe the lack of
attention to and investment in mental illness and addictions is a
reflection of the stigma and shame associated with these disorders.

This neglect would not be tolerated for physical illnesses of similar
prevalence and severity. Such treatment of our heart institute or our
cancer-care services would create a huge public and media outcry.

Health Minister George Smitherman recently announced that $250 million
would be directed to the community mental-health sector. However, it
is still only a drop in the bucket. It doesn't begin to make up for
more than 10 years of erosion of funding for these essential health
services and prevention strategies.

As Mr. Pickard implores, contact your MPP or contact Mr. Smitherman's
office directly to ensure that the needs of people requiring addiction
and mental-health services aren't ignored.

Susan Harrison,


Director, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
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