WINNIPEG — The numbers of people with serious mental disorders in Canada's prisons and jails are "higher than they've ever been" and they continue to rise, an Ontario forensic psychiatrist says.
Dr. John Bradford told a national mental health conference in Winnipeg on Wednesday that the problem is not our country's alone — it exists in the United States and around the world.
In North America, the problem has been exacerbated by a trend since 1960 to close down institutions for the mentally ill and treat people in the community. With the advent of certain drugs, that's proved successful for many people, while others have fallen through the cracks, winding up homeless and incarcerated in correctional facilities. globalwinnipeg.com
I have not done the reseach to check the numbers, but I would suspect that there is a fairly high degree of addictions among people with mental health issues.
The globe and mail, a couple of years ago, ran a series of articles under the heading "breakdown" on mental health issues in Canada. Check it out for more information on mental health issues.
A report issued in September 2010 by the Office of the Correctional Investigator says:
“The needs of mentally ill offenders in custody exceed the current capacity of the Correctional Service of Canada...Among the recommendations, are that the correctional service should:
Canadian penitentiaries are becoming the largest psychiatric facilities in the country.” CBC
- Fund implementation of its mental health strategy, with a particular focus on intermediate care.
- Develop mental health service delivery partnerships with the provinces and territories.
- Enhance its support of the development of a national strategy for corrections and mental health, with a focus on care guidelines.
Changing systems is never easy. And sadly, it is sometimes the church and christians who are slow to recognize this. In reality, we should be at the forefront of praying for and working for real change, not simply bandaid solutions. This is at both the systemic level and the individual level - getting to know the people in our neighbourhoods and ministering to them.
[part of a series of election 2011 reflections]