Wellness Checks

Yesterday afternoon while doing wellness checks on tenants, staff found that one of them had passed away.  Staff must do wellness checks in pairs for just this kind of situation.  The tenant was a vivacious, sweet, kind woman with a mop of glorious blonde curls, staff and tenants alike always smiled when she was around, though sometimes her mental health left her in a dark and unhappy place, full of very unfriendly voices.  To combat them she self medicated with whatever she could find.  We tried more times than we could count, to have her seen by a psychiatrist but invariably we were told it was ‘the drugs’ and therefore for some illogical reason, her behaviours were blamed on this.  Her death will go mostly unnoticed but to those of us who knew her, she died because our mental health system is over stretched and under resourced.  Mental health beds for those who need some level of containment, barely exist.  The crises in our community, and around the country that has forced the criminalization of the mentally ill as the only way to access services, has created a vicious circle of victimization for those who really need health care.  The questions of homelessness and housing, of health care and police funding need to be examined as one issue.  When people are housed and have access to the mental health care they need, they are less likely to self medicate, to develop addictions, to fall between the cracks.  I believe that had our tenant been able to receive the support she needed through the mental health system her life may have told a very different story.