Friday, October 29, 2010

Indigenous Health Perspective

My only experience with Indigenous health has been when I worked in healthcare facility in southern Manitoba in the Diagnostics department. This particular facility was the central location for all of the Northern (Berens River, Gods Lake, Norway House) health care facilities for interpretation of the diagnostic tests that were performed there. One of my tasks at this facility was to transcribe the x-ray reports in a timely fashion and send them back to the awaiting doctor at the facility. Here, I did not necessarily have that much contact with the people directly besides the odd phone call, but even as I was reading the reports and the history of each situation I became more aware of the lack of resources and nutrition some of the facilities had. Up until I began this job, I had no idea of the challenges Indigenous people have or still face each day.

I found it challenging to find an article that provided a clear perspective on the social policy of Indigenous health and culture regarding people with mental illness. A website I did find was Aboriginal Healing Foundation. It includes many links for healing assistance for those in need.

I focused on the article, Commentary: Indigenous Health Special Issue. The article expresses that indigenous health issues are among the people worldwide. According to the article, there is a tension between individual needs and the structural risks that drive the problem for indigenous people (Tonmyr & Blackstock, 2010, p. 137). "Many of the poor health outcomes experience by Indigenous people are driven by structural issues that are often outside the personal domain for change" (Tonmyr & Blackstock, 2010). It seems that the Indigenous people have been forced to change their ways of life over the past few decades. To me, it seems that the Indigenous people are forced by people of majority to change their culture and language, for example the 60's scoop.

In our last class lecture, the ``60`s scoop`` was brought up in discussion. The "60's scoop was when Aboriginal children were scooped up from their families to be adopted by Euro-Canadians and Americans. I was not aware of its entirety until that class. It was sad to hear the trauma the children faced. The effects of this was so severe that years after Indigenous elders are still suffering from emotional and psychological consequences, including mental illness and alcohol abuse.

We also discussed the Residential School event. Indigenous children were forced out of their homes and taken to residential schools. The children were abused physically and sexually and were not allowed to speak their own language. They were taught another way of life than their parents and elders knew. The children of this event were also traumatized. The consequences of this event were so severe for many that the Prime Minister still felt that there was a need for a public apology. The children that went through that era now face effects such as alcohol abuse, cognitive and psychological illnesses and emotional unrest, even years of counselling cannot erase the memories of that traumatic time for their minds. ``The negative consequences of the unnecessary removal of children has eroded Indigenous cultures and languages set in play personal and communal inter-generational trauma`` (Tonmry & Blackstock, 2010). Their culture was taken away from them and slowly it diminished in some individual opinions.

While taking care of the Indigenous people that may be affected by a mental illness, either as a result from a traumatic episode in their life or from natural causes, we need to remember to provide the culturally appropriate care for them. Each culture has different beliefs and methods when it comes to healthcare. We need to be sensitive and aware of the different beliefs.  According to Williamson & Harrison (2010) there are two approaches to being culturally appropriate when caring for those of another culture. The first approach focuses on beliefs and values of the culture. It is important to remember that some Indigenous people have a different perspective that may be different from ours. Before the Europeans, Indigenous people were very egalitarian, all members were equal and there were no individuals (Mawhiney & Hardy, 2009). Their culture is still that way in many ways even as the European people tried to break that up and conform many to a different way of life. An Indigenous person with a mental disability / illness would need assistance more than ever for basic life needs. In my opinion, for some Indigenous elders who have Alzheimer’s or another mental illness, it may be hard to depend on and allow a person of a different culture to assist them in their treatment and care. Many of them may have been victims of the 60's scoop or the Residential School and may still be holding a grudge or resent them. Some Aboriginal elders may not believe in the medical care and have their own preferences for care.

The 2nd approach focuses on their social position and how this has affected their health and well-being (Williamson & Harrison, 2010). Those people with a mental illness are already stigmatized. An indigenous person is sometimes stigmatized to be of a lower social class whether they are or not. Many have suffered from severe maltreatment. An indigenous person with a mental disability may have suffered tremendously and have a lower self-esteem or emotional health.

Each individual will have different views and beliefs, and those views need to be remembered and respected. This is especially important for those with a social worker perspective to remember. Each person has a different story, different history, different belief system, and a different upbringing. We all deserve to be treated equally no matter what our culture, race or beliefs may be.


Aboriginal Healing Foundation. (2010). Retrieved October 30, 2010, from

Mawhiney, A.M. & Hardy, S. (2009). Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.

Stolen Nation. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2010, from

Tonmyr, L. & Blackstock, C. (2010). Commentary: Indigenous Health Special Issue. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. Special Issue: Indigenous Health, 8(2). 135-144. doi:10.1007/s11469-010-9272-7

Williamson, M. & Harrison, L. (2010). Providing Culturally Appropriate Care: An Literature Review. International Journal Of Nursing Studies, 47(6), 761-769. doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2009.12.012.

Dana W

Indigenous perspectives on health and well-being

        I was quite excited to write a blog about Indigenous perspectives, as I've been fascinated with the Aboriginal culture and way of life since an early age. I believe in our modern culture we tend to complicate things and forget about what is important and meaningful in our lives. Spending time with Aboriginals have given me another perspective on life. I had the opportunity in 2007 to do voluntary work with Aboriginals In Cross Lake and Berens River, and I had a great experience. I was welcomed and treated as a friend from the start. A lot of my time was spend with the youth and it did not take much time to feel close to them. I appreciated their more relaxed way of life and their respect and acceptance of others.

        In Turner & Turner (2009), “Studies undertaken over the last 30 years have shown time and time again that social and health indicators of Aboriginal peoples in Canada fall far below those of Canadians in mainstream society. First Nations people are admitted to hospital at more than twice the rate of the national population” (p. 95-96).  Health and well-being among Aboriginals are issues that should not be ignored.

        I read the article Indigenous health part 2: the underlying causes of the health gap, and found it to be very interesting and filled with lots of insightful Indigenous perspectives on health. According to the article, Indigenous people consider good health as being more than just physical health or the absence of disease, but also include the balance of the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being of the person.The medicine wheel emphasizes balance in life and healing. Good health is believed to require individuals to live in harmony with others, their communities, and their spirituality. Their connections with others and family members are very important components to their well-being. Their definition of illness refers to an absence of balance and well-being.  .

        As stated in Gracey, King, and Smith (2009), “Indigenous health is widely understood to also be affected by a range of cultural factors, including racism, along with various indigenous-specific factors, such as loss of language and connection to the land, environmental deprivation, and spiritual, emotional, and mental disconnectedness.” Loss of identity is identified as being predictions of negative health outcomes. The article describes that Indigenous practitioners generally emphasize reduction of alienation and importance of positive cultural experiences for Aboriginals. Traditional teachings and knowledge are seen as providing a basis for positive self-image and identity of self.  As discussed in The Family Dynamic, it became impossible for Aboriginal peoples to follow their traditions when the reserve system was established.  Since learning more about Aboriginal history in class, I believe, the reserves along with the residential schools, were and continue to be the major influences on Aboriginal health, since they striped the Aboriginal people from their culture, and thus their well-being.

        I found it very interesting how Aboriginals emphasize the importance of others for their well-being, mental, spiritual, and physical health. I think there is a lot of truth in their beliefs on how our interactions with others affect our well-being. I know for me when I feel I am in harmony with those around me, especially those close to me, I have a more positive outlook on life, I have more energy, and I do feel generally happier. I believe Aboriginal perspectives on health can be a challenge, since from what I perceive, our modern society doesn't encourage spirituality, and the involvement of others in our lives for our well-being.  We seem to now focus a lot on being as independent as possible.  Oftentimes, it seems depending on others is seen as a human weakness.  However, I believe Aboriginal perspectives on Health and well-being is an encouragement to value that which is most precious and close to us, as our people, culture, and beliefs affect who we are and our well-being.

Gracey, M., King, M., & Smith, A. (2009). Indigenous health part 2: the underlying causes of the health gap. Vol 374, Iss 9683, 76-85. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60827-8

Turner, J.C., & Turner, F.J. (2009) Canadian Social Welfare (6th ed.) Aboriginal People in Canada. Toronto, ON: Pearson Canada.

Ward, M. (2006). The Family Dynamic: A Canadian Perspective (Fourth ed.). Thomson, Canada: Thomas Nelson. p. 93.

Sarah H

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Liberals focus on aging and brain disorders

I cannot imagine what I would do if a family member of mine was suddenly diagnosed with a mental disability. I would like to think that my first instinct would be to step in to assist with treatments, coping and care giving techniques, and to do anything I could. But what toll would that have on my body, my mental state and my personal life? A Health Canada study done in 2002 found that caregivers are most likely to feel stressed in terms of their emotional health, with 29%- 48% reporting that care giving has resulted in significant emotional difficulties for themselves ("Caregiver Support and Mental Health," 2004)

In a study that looked at the effects physical activity can have on the structural brain changes of the elderly, it was found that increased midlife physical activity can benefit the structural brain changes in the elderly (Rovio, S et al. 2010). It is my understanding that positive physical activity is not only better for your physical health but it can also benefit your cognitive and emotional health. So as the above statistic states that many caregivers feel their work has resulted in emotionl difficulties for themselves, it might be beneficial to their health to engage in physical activities that they enjoy and that act as a stress reliever. I have many people I associate with that are invovled in the medical field and I know a lot of them have stated that after a difficult day at work it helps if they go to the gym or for a walk.

In the article, Liberals Focus on Aging and Brain disorders as Part of Liberal Express home care week, the Liberals are calling upon the Conservatives to immediately begin assisting organizations that help people living with brain disorders and to determine how to help their caregivers as well. There is a quote in this article, Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal leader that states, "The only way that we can help the patients is to determine what is best to help the caregivers." I think there is so much truth to that statement. Without the caregivers how would the patients survive, how would they function with normal routines, or how would they adjust to the changes that their lives will  now take?

Last year, my Grandfather was in the hospital in palliative care for 11 months. His family was by his side every step of the way. My grandmother was too old to care for him on her own and so she felt she had no choice but to have him admitted to the palliative care unit. The nursing staff could only do so much for him. They are trained professionals that are there to give medical support as much as they can, but there is no support like family support. As my grandfather slowly deteriorated over time it took an emotional and physical toll on his family. There was always one or two people by his side, day or night. This was not only for support for my grandpa but I guess maybe for peace of mind for the family as well. Maybe this helped them know that if something went wrong, there was a family member for support. Not only were there members of the family that became emotionally drained but also personal relationships went through hardships during this time. The stress level is higher than normal and lack of sleep at times. Each person had to find their own support system or their own way of grieving.

One survey found that women were more likely than men to find it challenging to maintain relationships with family or friends, 47 percent versus 31 percent, (Preidt, 2010). This survey was performed for caregivers of Alzheimer's patients.

In the article, a Liberal Public Health critic, Dr. Kirsty Duncan states that, "While the Conservatives have done little to acknowledge the work of unpaid home caregivers, the Liberal Party is committed to increasing support for them and improving Canadian healthcare,” (Liberals focus on aging and brain disorders, 2010). in my opinion, this quote is saying that the Conservative government has not recognized that family and home caregivers are in need of recognition and assistance as well. They are the support system for the ill. The Liberal government is willing and prepared to improve the care and support for the home caregivers.

Mullaly states that, "Neo-conservatives attribute social problems to weaknesses, deviance, or heredity of the individual, liberals attribute social problems to social disorganization inherent in an urbanized and industrialized capitalist society and a globalized economy," (Mullaly, 2007, p. 101). Here, Mullaly is saying that the neo-conservatives are blaming the individual for their own social problems but the liberals feel that social problems are due to the disorganization of the capitalism in the society. Liberals feel that it is not up to the individual to fix their problems or cope on their own but the government is there to provide them the assistance and support they need. They believe in social equality and social organization to fix the problems.

As determined in the above article a liberal view of this issue is not to blame the individual as a neo-conservative view may, but instead to find a solution. Liberalists view society as a mixed economy. The fundamental economic value of liberalism is competitive capitalism based on free enterprise, but with some government regulation, (Mullaly, 2007, p. 99)

By first recognizing that a problem does exist, then coming together and finding a solution for the problem that exists we can help make the problem better.

Physical activity would be something caregivers can do for their own personal health but they also need to be secure financially and feel that they are supported when they are assisting their patients.Caregivers need to be given support, whether that may include financially, home care assistance, knowledge and education or just emotional outlets to help de-stress themselves. Taking care of another person can be hard especially if we are thrown into it.  When you start a new job you always get a few days of training right? So why is family care giving any different?

Caregiver Support and Mental Health, (2004). Retrieved October 26, 2010, from 

Survey Reveals Alzheimer's Caregivers' Top Concerns, (2010), Retrieved October 26, 2010, from

Liberals Focus on Aging and Brain Disorders as part of Liberal Express home care week, (2010), Retrieved October 25, 2010, from

Mullaly, B. (2007). The New Structural Social Work (third ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.

Rovio, S. et al. (2010). The Effect of Midlife Physical Activity on Structural Brain Changes in the Elderly. Neurobiology of Aging, 31, p. 1927-1936. doi.10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2008.10.007

Dana W

Disabled again on BC Liberals' Hit List

Classic liberalism to Mullaly: “government spending distorts market forces and budget deficits (Mullaly, 2007, 93).”
Have you ever read an article online, in a library, or in a newspaper and have been so bothered at how evil people in our country, Canada can actually be? Well, I certainly felt bothered after I read the article, Disabled again on BC Liberals’ Hit List.
By taking in Mullaly’s beliefs, the Liberal Government of British Columbia does not spend their money effectively. As a result, the British Columbian “government has slashed social assistance to save $25 million over two years (Tieleman, 2010).” Therefore, people on social assistance will suffer greatly. However, people who have disabilities, whether it be mentally or physically will suffer the most, along with the poor.
Tieleman expresses that people with a significant neurological degeneration cannot receive the Monthly Nutritional Supplement they used to receive; unless they qualify for another specific condition as well. “Because poor people and those with disabilities who are deprived of healthy food and shelter get sick- so sick they end up in the hospital for expensive treatment, cuts will cost the health system more (Tieleman, 2010).” Unfortunately, a large number of Canadians suffer from mental illnesses at some point of their lives. The Liberal Government is making the poor, the sick, and the disabled feel despondent, hopeless, and angry at themselves and the government. Therefore, serious thoughts should be considered.
I cannot believe that the liberal government slashed social assistance to save the government money. The liberal government is one that is supposed to believe in equality for its citizens. How is slashing social assistance fair to the poor? The majority of individuals who are in poverty and who are poor are those with mental illnesses, therefore the government is greatly affecting individuals with mental illnesses and their families. As if they are not suffering enough. As noted above, Tieleman expresses that people with a significant neurological degeneration cannot receive the Monthly Nutritional Supplement they used to receive; unless they qualify for another specific condition as well. In my opinion, this is not fair. I know, and many would agree that individuals who are poor or on social assistance are not as healthy as individuals who are not poor or not on social assistance; because those who are poor have very limited amounts of money to spend on food. The government thinks that as long as one has at least two of the qualifying conditions, they are able to receive the supplement. I think this is unrealistic considering many individuals are unable to qualify for more than one. Individuals with mental illnesses do spend great amounts of time in the hospital because they do not always receive the treatment they need, and they cannot always take care of themselves. I believe that if the liberal government decides to act like liberals, society will benefit, mainly individuals with mental illnesses and the poor.
The liberal government appears to be having money issues. They state a contributor is the fact that the poor and people with mental illnesses require hospital stays that are quite costly. In order to prevent high hospital costs, and to have a healthier and happier society, the liberal government needs to spend money on providing more mental health services and programs, that will be available to all people with mental illnesses, including the poor. In the long run, this will decrease the high costs of hospital stays as individuals with mental illnesses will be healthier from the proper treatments they will receive. If the government were to fall through with this, society would benefit.

Mullaly, B. (2007). The New Structural Social Work (3rd ed.). Canada: Oxford University Press.

Tieleman, B. (03/09/2010, March 9). Disabled again on BC Liberals' Hit List. Retrieved from The Tyee

Ashley R.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Liberal view of home care

        I read the article “Conservatives ignoring Canada's home care challenge” and decided to write about it because home care has affected my grandparents in a personal way.  I found the information in this article to be very important; especially the stand that the Liberals make towards funding and support towards the elderly and their care givers. Liberals are voicing an important need of our society by emphasizing the importance of government funding to provide a home care plan as part of our universal health care system.

        “With an ageing population, the number of Canadians who will need home care is projected to rise one-third by 2017, Canada’s 150th birthday.  With nearly three million Canadians currently caring for a sick family member at home, the burden on families who are also supporting college-age children, working and saving for retirement is only expected to rise” (Liberal Party, 2010). These facts not only acknowledge the need for home care for the elderly, but it also emphasizes the effect it can have on the families who are providing care. Home care is not just a concern of providing services for our ageing population, but also to be of assistance to the caregivers.  

        Mullaly discusses that liberals seek to use the power of the state to provide opportunities, such as public education and health care, that would not be available to many people without government intervention.  Conservatives ignoring Canada's home care challenge describes the Liberals support funding towards home care to support the elderly and to help caregivers.  Instead of spending on further tax cuts, Liberals will use some of those funds towards seniors and their care givers.  As stated by Mr. Brison in the article: “Home care is less costly than hospitalization and more dignified for our seniors.  If we can ease the financial hardship of caregiving on our families, it’s a win-win for everyone” (Liberal Party, 2010).  Bison is acknowledging not only the need of seniors to be provided with care, but also their dignity as persons who deserve quality care.

        My late grandmother had Alzheimer's and my grandfather was her caregiver for 12 years of her illness. It was very important for my grandmother, during her illness to be around people she was familiar with. Providing care at home as long as it was beneficial and possible for my grandparents, was definitely the best option for them and the family who assisted in care-giving. Being provided with home care a few times per week, as well as other beneficial emotional and financial assistance greatly helped my grandfather. My grandfather was honoured and happy to be the primary caregiver of my grandmother until it was necessary for her to be placed in a personal care home because his health was declining. I know he was grateful for the assistance he received during the stages of Alzheimer's with his wife.

        I support the notion to have the elderly stay in their homes as long as it is beneficially possible, and to assist families in providing care for their loved ones. Family involvement, as I can testify with my grandmother, and the elderly I worked with, is beneficial, and government assistance is important to be able to do so with minimal stress. I believe for many, home care would not be possible without outside help. As our past generations have worked towards a better life for us, we are now called to stand up for what is best for them.

Liberal Party of Canada (2010, July 28) Conservatives ignoring Canada's home care challenge, Health & Home Care, Retrieved October 21, 2010, from

Mullaly, B. (2007). The New Structural Social Work (third ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 92.

Sarah H

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A VERY Liberal View of Addictions

The article, “A liberal account of addiction” describes drug and alcohol addiction from a very liberal position. It attacks the mainstream conservative view of addiction, and argues that addiction is not a sign of deviance, but merely a choice made by an individual who is giving in to strong desires for the purpose of partaking in pleasure (Savulescu, 2010).
                Foddy & Savulesu argue that the current view of addiction creates an image of addicts being “unwilling, disordered slaves who can’t help their immoral pleasure seeking actions (Savulescu, 2010, p. 11).”  This understanding of people fits into the conservative idea that some people are simply corrupt by nature and have a place at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Conservatives view people as being driven by “two primary motives of pleasure and pain (Mullaly, 2007, p. 77).” In this picture, the addicts are primarily pleasure seeking, and they have no interest in participating in a traditional, productive life style. The authors reject this conservative interpretation of addiction. While critiquing this idea, they present a liberal view that people who may be at the bottom of the society totem aren’t immoral, diseased or weak, rather they are making a choice for themselves that they are very well entitled to.
                This liberal account of addiction presents the idea that people should be permitted to decide their own desires and values. Ideals should not be handed down and forced upon them. Mullaly writes that liberal beliefs are grounded in the “assumption that there should be as much individual freedom as possible in any civilized society…” (Mullaly, 2007, p. 91). In some cases, it is evident that an addict may prefer a drug over their health or even their own life and the liberal interpretation describes this as their choice. The individual who takes the liberty to make this choice, should be entitled to this preference and not labelled as immoral.  This very liberal viewpoint refers to addicts as people who merely have a “strong appetite towards pleasure,” presenting a less stigmatized picture of the addict (Savulescu, 2010, p. 15)
The article is written in a way which de-stigmatizes substance use in general. It argues that, because we live in a society where hard work and productivity are valued over anything else, pleasure seeking is seen as selfish and punishable, another attack on capitalist ideals (Savulescu, 2010). The addict is committing their life to pleasure rather than to contributing to the capitalist economy, and this liberal view argues that this is a lifestyle choice, rather than an immoral characteristic. The article contends that pleasure has an appropriate role in life, and that the idea of individual pleasure cannot be categorized into a normative standard (Savulescu, 2010).
                When examining the idea that some drug and alcohol addicts do want help out of their addiction, this liberal explanation supports reactive assistance from society and government funded institutions (Savulescu, 2010). It encourages the use of rehabilitation over treatment, however, and clearly expresses that treatment should never be forced under any circumstance (Savulescu, 2010). People should be able to maintain their autonomy and the right to make choices for themselves, even if they are experiencing addiction. While it recognizes the crimes that are related to drug use, it states that many of these criminal charges could be avoidable if drug laws were reduced and people were punished only for harming others, not partaking in an enjoyable experience (Savulescu, 2010)
             While this account is a very clear attack on conservative views of people with addictions, the article failed to explore the systematic issues which perpetuate drug use in our society. Rather than perceiving drug use as a coping or escape mechanism for some people who are dealing with very difficult, unfulfilled lives, it looks at substance abuse as an addition to people having a good time in life that is chosen over other aspects of life. While it can be that for some, it is important to examine why this need for chemical enjoyment is present in people’s lives and what may or may not be happening in one’s environment that is preventing them from achieving personal satisfaction. This liberal view does not recognise addiction as a disease, but a choice, ignoring the causes of addiction by refusing to address them.  


Mullaly, B. (2007). The New Structural Social Work (third ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Savulescu, B. F. (2010, March). A liberal account of addiction. Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychologly, 17, pp. 1-22.
-Crystal M.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Conservative agenda will 'stuff prisons,' advocates say

The article that I read is titled “Conservative agenda will ‘stuff prisons’, advocates say”. In the article, emphasis is placed on how the conservative government proposes to overpopulate the prisons with mentally ill people in hopes of reducing crime rates.

In the Mullaly text, a neoconservative view on society, society is based upon only individuals. Society is made up of individuals and there is no such thing as society (Mullaly, 2007, p. 79). Neo-conservatism bases society on a series of individual contracts that free individuals enter into with one another.  Based upon the article, crime is a community issue. A neoconservatist government agrees upon values of individualism and inequality. I believe the most positive way to improve the crime rate in Canada is to attack it with a community based perspective.  Our prison system has become a place to train men in the art of violence and warehouse the mentally ill individuals. The Conservative party believes that by incarcerating the mentally ill and violent individuals of society it will decrease our crime rate. This does not only overpopulate the prisons all over Canada but it also does not help the mentally ill or violent to become an asset to society. In a sense, the conservative government would only be shielding the outside world from the mentally ill and hindering the mentally ill from receiving medical and / or social assistance required.

Based upon the concept of human nature, the neoconservative government views individuals as selfish and isolated and their behaviours are determined only by pleasure and pain. (Mullaly, 2007) By isolating the mentally ill individuals in a prison setting, it isolates them and it does now allow them to function in society. It will only hinder their self-worth. It is selfish of us to try to hide the problems in our society.

The article refers to the U.S. crime rate not decreasing but in fact increasing due to incarceration. It strongly urges the Canadian government to not make the same mistake the U.S. has done. According to Mullaly, a neoconservative view of social justice includes that there are no social problems only individual problems that occur when the individual does not continue to look after themselves. (Mullaly, 2007) Not all of the mentally ill are violent, but many violent mentally ill individuals need assistance and by only incarcerating them and not providing the assistance they require day to day may increase some of their individual violent behaviour. Not all mentally ill are violent but some are and the article states that by incarcerating those who are mentally ill over and over again will only recycle the individuals through the system.

When addressing the problem of the overpopulation in prisons the Conservative government proposed to eliminate early parole for offenders. The article states that the only result of this proposition would be releasing more and more people with into the community with serious mental illnesses without support or supervision. This in turn will not fix the problem, it will only allow the mentally ill into the community without the assets and provisions for a community supported life they deserve and require. Neoconservatives are often content with the way things are and defend reformed institutions. The article emphasizes the fact that the neoconservative government as declaring its crime agenda will not be influenced by evidence of what it is that does and does not actually reduce crime and create safer communities.

Mentally ill individuals are stuck with the stigma that they are people who are having done this to themselves or have done something to deserve it. They are seen as deserving.  This stigma comes from the very top of our society; the neoconservative government. Without the help and assistance, either socially or support the mentally ill will be placed back into society with no changes. Chances are they will continue to re-offend and will be placed back in the system over and over again. The stigma attached to the mentally ill needs to be removed and the only way that can happen is for the government to lead the community so the social change that is helpful to everyone it affects.

The article also cites statistics by the federal commissioner of correction. These statistics state that 80% of federal offenders have drug or alcohol abuse problems or both, as well as approximately 12% that have been diagnosed with mental disorders. Social change to a neoconservative government should be slow and evolutionary. Neoconservative government intervention can sometimes be seen as interference but without the intervention there will not be a social change. The mentally ill will have difficulty with thriving in the community without a support based system for improvement.

The government hopes to better the crime rates in and out of the prison system but along with that, recognition of the needs for the mentally ill inside the prison walls needs to be recognized. The family is needed for support, resources and assistance for these individuals. Individuals create our society but our society helps to shape our views and values.

MacCharles, T,  (2009, October 27).  Conservative Agenda Will 'Stuff' Prisons, Toronto Star, Retrieved October 19, 2010, from 

Mullaly, B. (2007). The New Structural Social Work (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press

Dana W

Mental Health Coalition of Nova Scotia

“Conservatism is a set of beliefs that ‘springs from a desire to conserve existing things, held to be either good in themselves, or better than the likely alternatives, or at least safe, familiar, and the objects of trust and affection (Mullaly, 2007, 70).”

In Nova Scotia, Canada, there have been many problems in regard to the Conservatives not helping out society’s mentally disabled. The Conservatives have unsuccessfully offered mental health services that would be available to all Nova Scotians. “Services are not always available when and where they are needed, and Nova Scotian families are suffering as a result (O’Connor, 2009).” According to O’Connor, it is remarkably difficult for the adolescents of Nova Scotia to receive the type of mental health services they desire, because the wait times have increased drastically. As a result, O’Connor states, there are more suicide attempts among minors than in the past.

The Conservatives have been bashed, as they are not helping the mentally ill; no matter what the age. People, especially children, who are not being treated for their mental disorder, are more likely to get into a dilemma with the law at some point of their lives. It is thought that we could blame the Conservative government for not providing enough money for mental health services in Nova Scotia. As O’Connor points out, because of the Conservatives, not everyone has had an equal chance and opportunity to get the help they truly deserve; mainly those with mental illnesses. The Deputy Health Minister of Nova Scotia also believes that not everyone is receiving the help they need.

“The Conservative government has had almost 10 years to fix the problems in mental health, for children, teens, and adults, and they have failed (O’Connor, 2009).”  Many Nova Scotian families are suffering, and I truly believe something must be done immediately. O’Connor states that approximately 20% of people during their life will be affected by a mental illness. Furthermore, it is their right to receive the help they need until they have improved no matter what their age is.

Conservatives believe that everyone should help themselves, but not all people are able to do so, especially those with mental illnesses. One would think that suicide attempts among minors, and the idea that people, mainly children with mental illnesses if not treated, are more likely to commit crime, would encourage the Conservatives to fix the major problems. Since the Conservative government of Nova Scotia has had about a decade to fix the problems in mental health, and have not, the NDP is stepping in. If the NDP did not step in, the Conservatives would have to begin fixing their problems, before society crumbles even more. They would have to most definitely increase the number of mental health services available to all members of society with a mental illness. As O’Connor puts it, services are not always available when and where they are needed, and Nova Scotian families are suffering as a result. Since the lack of services is affecting not only the individual with a mental illness, but the entire family (as the family is most likely responsible for taking care of the individual), it is clear that the Conservatives must have mental health services available throughout the maritime of Nova Scotia, and with extended hours, to ensure everyone is being treated. By doing this, there would be less attempts of suicide amongst minors, the crime rate would decrease, and many individuals with mental illnesses would be healthier, and their overall families would be happier and less stressed.

However, we can be thankful we do not have to rely on the Conservative government to help the struggling members of society with mental illnesses. The Conservatives would most likely not fix the problems anyway, as we have noticed this over the last decade. Instead, the NDP is taking initiative. The NDP plans to give all an equal chance to have the mental health service they need, and when they need it. The NDP plan, the “Better Deal 2009, includes the Every Kid Counts Program, which will establish 24/7 mental health crisis teams and Mental Health Teams in the school system (O’Connor, 2009).” Also, there will be plenty of sufficient mental health resources. The NDP plans to put a stop to and/or treat those with mental illnesses (as part of the health care system for all Nova Scotians.)

I believe, as anyone would, that individuals in Nova Scotia have been suffering way too long. Since the Conservatives have failed, I am glad to hear the NDP is stepping in. Their plans seem almost too good to be true. Nova Scotians need help immediately and desperately. I think what the NDP has planned will be beneficial to the society of Nova Scotia, but mainly towards individuals with mental illnesses and their families. The NDP says that they will give all an equal chance to have the mental health services they need and when they need it. I believe this is only possible if the number of mental health services increase greatly, and are spread to all areas of Nova Scotia. That way the mental health services and programs are close to all. Also, by extended the hours of operation of these programs and services, those with mental illnesses will be sure to have the adequate help the need, when they need, and for as long as they need. The Better Deal 2009 plan (including the Every Kid Counts Program) seems like a new organization that if followed through would be supported by many. Having mental health crisis teams are an excellent way for individuals with mental illnesses to be supported and treated effectively. By having Mental Heath Teams in the school system, many children with mental illnesses can receive the help they need. Also, students who have not yet been diagnosed with a mental illness may have the opportunity to be diagnosed and treated before it is too late. A negative effect of the Every Kid Counts Program is I believe not every school or every school system will have a Mental Health Team, which could mean many children with mental illnesses may not receive the help they need; unless they go to other programs and services outside of school. Lastly, it is great to know that those who will be receiving the treatment for their mental illness will be covered under the health care system. This will encourage more individuals to receive help, by taking another burden of their shoulder.

Ashley R.
The Neo-Conservatism Paradigm [Chapter 3]. (2007). In The New Structural Social Work (3rd ed., p.
70). Canada: Oxford University Press.

O'Connor, D. (2009, May 25). Mental Health Coalition of Nova Scotia – Election 2009 Nova Scotia NDP.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Depression and Mental Health in Neoliberal Times: A critical analysis of policy and discourse

          I looked at an article called "Depression and Mental Health in Neoliberal Times: A critical analysis of policy and discourse". The article critically examines how neoliberal politics have affected British Columbia's social services in the area of mental health. Many of the neoliberal themes that I have read about in the Mullaly text surfaced in this article and the author made a clear argument that the Liberal government in power is responding to mental illness and depression from a very conservative standpoint.

         Poverty, stress, fatigue and loss of control over one's life are listed as factors that lead to depression (Teghtsoonian, 2009). In relation to these factors, it is sourced in the article that, due to spending cutbacks to social services, tax breaks for the rich and other neoliberal political moves, the rate of depression in Canada is growing (Teghtsoonian, 2009). However, the government continues to decrease spending in the area of mental health in the form of staff and service cut-backs. This is a very clear picture of conservative politics.

        When addressing the problem of depression, the current government promotes a focus on educating people on how to live a healthy life, such as information on proper nutrition, a call for more physical activity in the schools and community, and peer lead support groups. People are encouraged to get help in the private sector rather than the public. These techniques are referred to as "self management skills" and imply that people are responsible for learning how to keep themselves mentally healthy, rather than depending on the health system for aid and assistance (Teghtsoonian, 2009). With the support of friends, family and community, making the choice to be emotionally healthy is possible. This is an example of the neoliberal residual approach.

        Systems inequalities, poverty, discrimination and the negative effects of current policies are not addressed by the Liberal government and the focus is on the individual. The actions taken stress the need to ensure that individuals all have access to important information that will help them chose to be mentally healthy, as it is their responsibility and not society's. The focus on the individual is key to neoliberal thought.

       This article highlights the neoliberal practices implemented by the B.C. Liberal government in regards to depression and mental health. It draws attention to the fact that mental health is being seen a personal issue and that it should be dealt with in a private way, utilizing the residual approach. It creates a vivid image of how the neoliberal policies and cutbacks to social services are only perpetuating an increase of Canadians who will be exposed to the risk factors that lead to mental health issues.
 Mullaly, B. (2007). The New Structural Social Work (third ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
         Teghtsoonian, K. (2009, July). Depression and mental health in neoliberal times: a critical anlysis of policy and disclosure. Social Science & Medicice, 28-35.

-Crystal M.