In 2022, Scott Smith says he was turned away from Battlefords Union Hospital while in depression.
“I was in such a dark place,” he said.
“They told me not to come to the hospital because I was bothering them, and they told me to leave, and I walked out of the hospital, bawling my eyes out, on my knees in the parking lot and waiting for my dad to come get me me up.”
The 24-year-old says he has dealt with depression all his life and there are not enough resources in the Battlefords to support people struggling with mental health.
He says when he was admitted to hospital it was little more than a four day stay with very little supervision followed by a prescription for medication.
“I have trouble sleeping at night because my thoughts are going and I always want to be gone because I don’t think anyone cares about me,” he said.
“I’ve tried so many times to get in touch and they just keep pushing me away.”
Smith says he has seen a revolving door of psychiatrists since 2019 and received a letter on Wednesday from the Saskatchewan Health Authority saying his current psychiatrist will be leaving the area.
He says he would like to see more doctors committed to the region, as well as support teams such as a mobile crisis unit and a helpline.
“If you call 811, it’s only for a crisis, which is why I’d like it to change a lot and have something 24/7 in North Battleford to help with depression, and someone to talk to, because there’s no one to talk to in North Battleford,” he said.
In a statement, the Ministry of Health says there will be a total of 49 percent more mental health personnel in the province between 2008-2009 and 2021-22.
The ministry says mental health and addiction treatment outpatient clinics are available through the Saskatchewan Health Authority in North Battleford, Lloydminster and Meadow Lake, while investments have been made in a police and emergency response team (PACT), a Community Recovery Team and mental health capacity building. healthcare. at two schools in North Battleford.
“The Department of Health is aware that individuals with intensive mental health needs benefit from client-centered services in their communities,” the statement reads.
“In 2022, we announced more residential beds in Saskatchewan for adults with severe, ongoing mental health needs. There are now eight medium-intensity beds in North Battleford. In Saskatoon there are 10 intensive beds and 24 medium intensive beds.”
Executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s North Battleford branch, Michele Winterholt, says the organization runs recreational and occupational programs to support people dealing with their mental health.
“Just having that place to go, make contacts or have something to do can be really important to them,” she said.
Winterholt says part of her goal is to support people’s journey to continuous positive mental health.
“Mental health is not something that has ever been done,” he said.
“You have to keep working at it, you have highs and lows, ups and downs, good days, bad days. So getting the medical support you need is one strategy. Another strategy is to stay involved in the community.”
Smith says a lack of mental health resources in the region is depressing, and he would like to see a change.
“I even tried to overdose a few times,” he said.
“I got two ambulance bills in the mail in November for trying to overdose because no one listens to me.”
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