Thoughts on Mental Health Care in Alberta Arising From a Conversation in an Edmonton Bowling Alley

Alberta Hospital Edmonton came up in conversation this evening at the bowling alley.

I might have said “depressing”. I’m not sure.

I want to make this clear:

The work and the staff and the patients of Alberta Hospital are NOT depressing. However flawed, the work is noble, the staff are heroes, and the patients are inspiring survivors.

Depressing beyond measure, however, are the decrepit, abandoned, flooded, ruined buildings, the burning-out (but still dedicated – and that’s uplifting, not depressing) staff, the invisibility to the wider Edmonton community of the patients at the Hospital, and, at the hellishly depressing root of it all, the despicable under-funding of mental health care in Alberta.

To Joanna, the young Nursing student to whom I spoke this evening, who works out in the community with a pretty cool dude who has a wicked spin on a bowling ball and a developmental disability . . .

You totally rock!

Maybe you find poetry hard. Maybe you wish you could read something other than text books. Maybe you don’t know how long you’ll last as a nurse.

But you sit there calmly and patiently waiting for DATS. Hoping your ride hasn’t left because you’re late by thirty seconds in a one hour window. Keeping things cool when transportation is a near-total unknown.You are 22 years old with absolute responsibilities for another human being the same age as you, responsibilities the vast majority of adults couldn’t imagine even if they had an awareness of AISH, PDD, FSCD, DS, and so many other acronyms.

You rock, Joanna.

You’re not depressing.

People aren’t depressing.

The mental healthcare system is depressing.