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The fourth option

Jody Vance: It’s time to start thinking of mental health as crucial, and the brain as another vital organ to maintain – and heal, when need be.
Who you gonna call?

“911 - Police, Fire or Ambulance?”

The E-Comms answer to an emergency dial sorts calls to our first responders. The offer, today’s Middle suggests, is that there should be a fourth option: mental health.

Anyone who has advocated on behalf of a loved one suffering from mental health issues, emergency or not, it’s clear that our health system falls short in offering vital support in a timely fashion.

Take, for example, a very successful and seemingly “together” individual admits to suffering extreme anxiety and depression – only to be told “we can get you an appointment in eight months or so for assessment.”

Not help. Assessment.

We are up to our brainstems in a mental health emergency.

Given the timeline to meaningful help, you can start to see why so many pained and suffering souls self-medicate their lives away.

A mind suffering a break should receive a similar response as a bone break. A fractured femur will get you an ambulance, then (hopefully) fast-tracked through emergency and into surgery without delay. Where is the want to invest in what is so needed?

Coming through the COVID-19 pandemic has bent society into something many find impossible to navigate without support.

It’s become clear how vital our missing mental health system is, and how all levels of government talk the “Let’s Talk” without ever actually walking the walk.

This Middle casts a raised eyebrow at a system that claims to put mental health support at the top of the health care food chain – and yet leaves patients starved.

There is no system, unless you can barely function — long past the point where you might have righted the ship with support in early days.

Mental health support should not be only for those who have the money, but for those who need it. As a country, we proudly waive our public healthcare flag – and dammit, we should – but it’s time to recognize our system simply must evolve to view the brain as another vital organ to maintain.

This was true before, but it’s even more urgent. A true mental healthcare system could save lives hit by COVID, dealing with post-traumatic stress and worse from the pandemic and what was lost. And that’s not even factoring those already self-medicating with poisoned street drugs.

Dialing 911 should be met with an emergency response that fits the needs of Fire, Police, Ambulance, or severe mental break. Engaging those with specialized know-how is a good place to start.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.


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