Content note: some things we don’t talk about

I’m writing a five to seven minute speech that, were I to write it as a blog post, would come with an advisory about the subject matter. I will be illustrating a few of the bugs and features of Ontario’s mental health care system through vignettes of a narrative in which I played a peripheral role.

The circumstances in which I became someone’s advocate and navigational advisor as they sought better health are ones I would not wish on anyone. The stresses that came crashing into my life seemed towering at the time. They were ripples in a pond compared to the tsunami of deliberate abuse, authoritarian decisions, and tragic misunderstandings the principal character weathered. With time and reflection, I’ve found ways to embrace some lessons on care and service that at the time had felt senselessly cruel.

Now I’m ready to pass a piece of my learning on to others, in the hope it can improve their lives and the lives of those they encounter. My current challenge is finding empathy’s path in a minefield of cold statistics and too-personal storytelling. Any discussion about mental health that focuses on the need for better care is firmly in “nice people don’t mention” territory. I am not nice people. I am someone who holds the duty of care for my listener sacred.

I’m confident I’ll deliver a talk that meets my goals of educating and motivating at least some in the audience without upsetting anyone. Right now I’m several drafts and many rehearsals away. Fortunately I’m both thorough and persistent on matters I care deeply about.

Given the direction and velocity my provincial government is taking with respect to decision making, it feels like the right time to quietly, firmly spread a few informed recommendations. Whether the tale ends up here is out of my hands: I’ll ask permission for a broader audience when I have a publication-worthy version.

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