April 10, 2005

Navigating Canada's Mental Health System

Book helps navigate mental health system

A new booklet has been produced by the Canadian Mental Health Association (Guelph Office) for individuals and families that have been newly diagnosed with a mental illness to help them nagivate the mental health system in that city.

If its not already available - it seems like this is something that every city should have- both for handouts and for internet access.

The local newspaper in Guelph, Canada noted that "once the shock of diagnosis wears off, there's a complicated mental health system to navigate, says Jessie Baynham, communications specialist with the Guelph office of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Baynham has put together a book of anecdotes, information and local mental health contacts for individuals and family members weaving their way through the system.

From Rollercoaster to Recovery: a guide for families navigating the mental health system in Wellington-Dufferin, will be launched April 25 at 4 p.m., at the Bookshelf.

   "It can be quite complicated," Baynham said.

   "We know that when a crisis hits, very specific information is needed by families at that point. But after the crisis, other information is still needed. This book is about getting through the crisis but also building a life after crisis, written for families and patients with input from family and patients."

   Someone diagnosed with cancer might seek out support groups, transportation programs and other community supports, but there's still so much stigma attached to mental illness, families are less inclined to search for those supports, Baynham said.

   "But they need them. There are complex emotions for the whole family. But that doesn't mean it has to be devastating," she added.

   The 160-page book includes chapters on coping with crisis at the hospital, plus information on medications, housing, finances, the legal system, education and employment


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