Films ex­plore Way­point’s his­tory

Packet & Times (Orillia) - - NEWS - pbales@post­media.com twit­ter.com/patrick­bales PA­TRICK BALES

The his­tory of men­tal-health treat­ment in On­tario is the fo­cus of a film pro­ject put to­gether by Way­point Cen­tre for Men­tal Health Care.

Keys to our Past: Un­lock­ing our His­tory in Men­tal Health Care de­buted Oct. 5 at the cen­tre in Pene­tan­guishene. The pro­ject is made up of six 10-minute films ex­plor­ing the evo­lu­tion of care for those with men­tal ill­ness, from the cen­tre’s ear­li­est days as the Asy­lum for the In­sane to its cur­rent in­car­na­tion.

How things have changed in Pene­tan­guishene or any other in­sti­tu­tion dur­ing the past cen­tury quickly be­come ap­par­ent through the short films, said Kris­tine Lalonde, com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer at Way­point.

“Most of the peo­ple who were sent here for treat­ment were shunned by their com­mu­ni­ties and their fam­i­lies,” Lalonde said. “If you think about it from that point of view — and the evo­lu­tion and un­der­stand­ing of med­i­ca­tions and dif­fer­ent types of treat­ments — it’s com­pletely dif­fer­ent (from) what it was.”

The films were made pos­si­ble by a grant from the So­cial Sci­ences and Hu­man­i­ties Re­search Coun­cil as part of the com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 150th an­niver­sary of Con­fed­er­a­tion, and cre­ated in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Lakeshore Grounds In­ter­pre­tive Cen­tre. Six themes are ex­plored in the six films, in­clud­ing build­ings where the pa­tients are housed, the dif­fer­ent types of treat­ment given, and the lan­guage and stigma sur­round­ing men­tal health.

What be­comes clear through the view­ing is the ways the treat­ment for men­tal-health is­sues has im­proved through the decades. The knowl­edge health-care pro­fes­sion­als at the cen­tre have to­day wasn’t avail­able to those who were work­ing at the cen­tre a gen­er­a­tion ago.

“It’s just a mat­ter of ed­u­ca­tion and ev­i­dence-based prac­tice,” Lalonde said. “There were many things we look back on now that peo­ple think, ‘Wow, I can’t be­lieve that hap­pened,’ but in the day, it was cut­ting edge, and they thought they were do­ing good.”

Way­point’s his­tory shows a field that changes, then changes again, Lalonde added. That’s also ev­i­dent in its re­la­tion­ship with the com­mu­nity. An em­ployer of 1,200, Way­point has had a strong pres­ence in Pene­tan­guishene since it opened its doors. Its vast prop­erty once housed an out­door curl­ing rink and skat­ing oval, used by the fam­i­lies of those in the com­mu­nity who worked there.

But Lalonde is quick to point out it was the end of the road — both lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively — for a col­lec­tion of the peo­ple in the prov­ince, ow­ing to its geo­graphic lo­ca­tion and pur­pose in the re­form and health-care sys­tems. Keys to our Past is one way to bridge the gap that has de­vel­oped be­tween the cen­tre and the com­mu­nity.

“We’re try­ing to break down that stigma. We do welcome peo­ple here,” she said. “We want peo­ple to come our en­vi­ron­ment and see that it’s not al­ways what is por­trayed. I think these videos help ac­com­plish some of that.”

The films can be viewed at way­point­cen­tre.ca/re­search _a­ca­demics/re­search___ aca­demic­s_­me­dia.

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