Writing and Expression From The Sunshine Coast

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mental health

Dealing With Depression Without Pharmaceuticals

in Lifestyle/Mental Health by

Over the years, I’ve written about this issue, for four reasons.

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Spring, Sun, Hope, And Mood

in Environment/Lifestyle/Mental Health/Nature by

Many of these columns begin quite unexpectedly – with an image, an overheard remark, a vague feeling.  This week’s is no different.

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Mental Health And Our First Responders

in Community/Local heroes/Mental Health by

When we are in distress, when are in peril, we rely on our first responders. Firefighters. Paramedics. Police. And, the dispatchers who sort through often-harrowing calls and stay on the line until help arrives.

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The Safety Of Our Psychiatric Care Workers

in Health/Mental Health by

Last month, Sean Eckford wrote a story in the paper I write for about psychiatric care at Sechelt Hospital that ought to concern everyone in our community.

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Emotional Well Being And The Power Of Art

in Arts/Growth & Wellness/Mental Health by

In a long-ago Peanuts comic, Charlie Brown asks Linus “But is it art?” The next panel shows Snoopy’s garishly redecorated doghouse, with its grinning owner dressed like a used-car salesman standing proudly beside it. Both human characters just sigh.

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Physical And Emotional Stress: Reposted by request

in Lifestyle/Mental Health by

We all deal with stress.  And it is worth thinking about how we feel it and what we can do about it.

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Learned Helplessness And Depression

in Mental Health/Social Justice by

Harsh experiences – all of us have had them. In childhood or after.

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When A Loved One Is Unwell

in Mental Health by

There are times when someone we love and care about becomes unwell – falls down and is harmed, and frequently embarrassed, by the behavioral symptoms and consequences of illness.

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Homelessness and Well-Being On The Sunshine Coast

in Mental Health/Social Justice by

At long last, a replacement for the old cold weather shelter at St. Hilda’s Church has been found. As readers will know, the Old Upper Deck Guesthouse has morphed into a 20-bed homeless shelter. Also, there is talk of creating a shelter in Gibsons. Both of these are excellent developments.

It seems, then, like a good time to talk about the relationship between mental well-being and homelessness.

But first, an observation: On the Sunshine Coast, homelessness and demand for social services like the food bank are on the rise, and the “typical” client base of 10 – even five – years ago has changed. The death spiral of unaffordable rentals and meager employment means we now see folks lining up for services who arrive in minivans with kids in tow.

This means we must look at homelessness both as a consequence of mental illness and also as a cause of emotional and mental harm.

Folks living with a mental illness face huge housing challenges. The first significant barrier to finding safe and dependable accommodation is financial. If a person’s health challenges are cyclical – that is, if there are occasional bursts of crippling or severe symptoms – steady employment is a virtual impossibility.

But the greater barrier is bias – a chain of discrimination that begins in the job market and extends to housing. Given the choice, many employers would rather not hire a worker who lives with a mental illness, and many landlords would prefer tenant with no medical issues. The economic insecurity that results plays out as a housing issue. No money; no home.

(I should note that there are several enlightened employers here on the Coast who fully accept employees with mental, developmental, and physical challenges.)

For the “new” faces of homelessness, the folks that have been driven to social services by an unaffordable housing market and disappearing job opportunities, the effects of losing a home can be devastating and lead to a severe downturn in mental well being.

Imagine this: Last year you worked in an office, had a family who you were more than able to provide for, and a wide circle of friends. This, broadly, was your social network. Now, take away your job and your house; what do you see and feel?

First there is shame, brought on by the sudden and unfamiliar inability to provide for your family. And embarrassment, too, at the perceived loss of status so hard-won by a lifetime of education and work.

Next, there is isolation and loneliness. Schools, the workplace, and activities that a reliable income can buy create a web of social connections. When this shared support structure and the folks who populate it vanishes, so do the social interactions with friends and like-minded people that give life much of its meaning.

Solitude and social separation, according to recent study, are a health hazard and can lead to a surprising number of ailments. These may include dementia, autoimmune and cardiovascular disorders, and even cancer – all very expensive to treat.

The list of the causes and effects of homelessness is a long one, and the human and financial health care consequences unacceptable.

If we take a harm reduction approach to housing, if we realize that a commitment to the creation of affordable housing mitigates these human and financial costs, then we will have taken a meaningful step towards a solution to a problem that looks to get worse in the future.

 

 

 

The Regulation Of Mental Health Counseling Therapy

in Local heroes/Mental Health/Social Justice by

Imagine this:

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