New pro­gram will save lives

The Compass - - Editorial - — Vince Withers chairs Eat­ing Dis­or­der Foun­da­tion of NL

I re­cently at­tended a press con­fer­ence at which the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment an­nounced the es­tab­lish­ment of an in­ten­sive care in­pa­tient pro­gram for our eat­ing dis­or­der fam­i­lies.

The an­nounce­ment came as a part of gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to im­ple­ment im­me­di­ately a num­ber of men­tal health and ad­dic­tions strate­gies re­sult­ing from some 54 rec­om­men­da­tions of an all-party com­mit­tee and con­tained in the To­wards Re­cov­ery - A Vi­sion for a Re­newed Men­tal Health and Ad­dic­tions in our prov­ince.

Once re­al­ized, this in­ten­sive care pro­gram will al­low fam­i­lies to have a much greater role in their fam­ily mem­ber’s re­cov­ery jour­ney. To­day, our more se­ri­ously ill eat­ing dis­or­der per­sons have to, in most cases, travel off-is­land for such treat­ment and with­out the very nec­es­sary fam­ily sup­port which we can all un­der­stand is an es­sen­tial part of what can be a long and dif­fi­cult road to a suc­cess­ful re­cov­ery out­come. Speak­ing for our many thou­sands of eat­ing dis­or­der fam­i­lies, we ap­pre­ci­ate and are grate­ful for this ex­pres­sion of car­ing for those who need this sup­port, and want to thank Premier Dwight Ball and Health Min­is­ter John Hag­gie for this ef­fort, know­ing that it will clearly save lives.

The in­tro­duc­tion of this pro­gram, cou­pled with ex­ist­ing good pro­grams at the Janeway Hospi­tal and the very suc­cess­ful pro­gram presently in place for in­ten­sive care out­pa­tients, have sub­stan­tially im­proved treat­ment sup­port ser­vices for what I con­sider to be an eat­ing dis­or­der epi­demic in our prov­ince and in­deed across Canada.

A re­cent re­port is­sued by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s De­part­ment of Health on the state of eat­ing dis­or­ders in Canada re­vealed that there are close to one mil­lion peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an eat­ing dis­or­der, in­clud­ing a sober­ing note that eat­ing dis­or­ders are sub­stan­tially un­der-re­ported.

While a lot of very worth­while dis­cus­sion has taken place in re­cent years about men­tal health and ad­dic­tions, th­ese an­nounce­ments clearly sig­nal a tan­gi­ble and proac­tive ap­proach that we are fi­nally mov­ing to a more fo­cused strat­egy of re­form­ing men­tal health and ad­dic­tions care in our prov­ince.

It’s im­por­tant to note that while th­ese new pro­grams are nec­es­sary and sig­nif­i­cant, it is in­cum­bent on each one of us to do what we can to sup­port those who re­quire a more sen­si­tive and car­ing ap­proach in our ev­ery­day lives. My ex­pe­ri­ence tells me that the first and most im­por­tant step to re­cov­ery is to en­cour­age and sup­port a more car­ing, un­der­stand­ing and sen­si­tive en­vi­ron­ment for those who come for­ward for sup­port.

I chal­lenge each one of us, start­ing to­day, to do what we can in our com­mu­nity sup­port groups, fam­i­lies, work­places and our so­cial places to rise and seize the op­por­tu­nity to make a dif­fer­ence.

It’s as­tound­ing what can be ac­com­plished when we work to­gether. A good ex­am­ple of this is the all-party com­mit­tee’s work on the To­wards Re­cov­ery Re­port; a clear and pro­duc­tive demon­stra­tion of real lead­er­ship. Lets con­tinue and build on To­wards Re­cov­ery; I re­main op­ti­mistic that in time it will pro­duce very pos­i­tive out­comes.

My ex­pe­ri­ence tells me that the first and most im­por­tant step to re­cov­ery is to en­cour­age and sup­port a more car­ing, un­der­stand­ing and sen­si­tive en­vi­ron­ment for those who come for­ward for sup­port.

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