Posts filed under 'Mental Health'
Today, our friends at Street Health are releasing a groundbreaking study on women, homelessness and health. The study is based on the Street Health Report 2007, and includes our portraits from Street Health Stories.
The research bulletin makes the front page news today at the Toronto Star.
According to the study, homeless women are 10 times as likely to have been sexually assaulted than men, and twice as likely to have received a mental health diagnosis. 84% of the women survey experience at least one serious physical health condition.
June 23rd, 2008
It’s taken us a while, but it was worth the wait.
The user’s guide is broken down into the questions we pose in case studies on the DVD. We include responses from the police, the hospital and 2 consumer survivors from the hospital’s Community Advisory Panel. The answers are fascinating, enlightening, and will help shape discussions in any setting.
Click here to download THE INTERVENTIONISTS USER’S GUIDE
December 11th, 2007
“Yippee… There are over a 100 people here and the film is a hit! The “using media as an advocacy tool” topic is a real win here. As in Montreal, people are saying our experience is ‘inspiring’! I’m very excited!”
That’s the news, just in moments ago, presumably off his blackberry. It’s from Dr. Ian Dawe, head of Emergency Psychiatry at SMH, who has travelled to Australia to present our film THE INTERVENTIONISTS at the World Psychiatry Congress.
And tomorrow, our partners at Street Health are on their way to an interesting event in Kitchener, to present their findings in the Street Health Report, and to screen our film STREET HEALTH STORIES.
November 30th, 2007
The phenomenal turnout today at the REPORT LAUNCH and EXHIBIT OPENING made me fall in love with Toronto all over again. Even though the subject was grim, the news tragic.
Over 250 of us gathered at the Church of the Holy Trinity: media, politicians, advocates and members of the homeless community to hear the STREET HEALTH REPORt statistics, to discuss 13 policy recommendations and to view and listen to STREET HEALTH STORIES photo + sound exhibit.
The full report is now available on-line at www.streethealth.ca
And the 8.5 minute film, STREET HEALTH STORIES, will premiere on CBC News: Sunday this weekend (check local listings).
Also check out the Toronto Star front page story that kick-started the day today.
A massive turn-out at historic Church of the Holy Trinity.
A moving thank you to our heroes, the Street Health nurses.
Jess, one of the four artists.
Ontario Minister of Health, George Smitherman, listening to Rook.
NDP Party Leader Jack Layton and Adrienne and Meghan, 2 of the artists.
Erika, Meghan, Xzavior, Calysta, Jess and Kate.
The I WAS HERE team. (with a few of our colleagues missing! I think I saw Dawn behind video camera at this moment, and where was Alice!!?)
And a big shout out to Orla, Michael, Branden, Jenn, Jane, Donna, Jacques who all spent long hours to get this up and running. And a big thanks to Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital for sponoring the build of three beautiful light-boxes. And great pix from Jag. so thanks all!
September 20th, 2007
Fresh on the heels of our *intervention* with our documentary THE INTERVENTIONISTS in front of the Toronto Police Services Board, our film repeats on CBC-Newsworld on Sunday, August 12, at 9 p.m.
And we just received a copy of a letter from the chair of the civilian Board, Alok Mukherjee (a fascinating human rights activist). Here’s a excerpt:
“The film gives an in-depth understanding of the important role which members of our joint MCIT play in assisting people in crisis. It is clear to me MCIT is an effective alternative to treating emotionally disturbed individuals as exclusively “law and order” problems, and may have saved lives. The fact that Coronoer’s Juries have supported extending the MCIT model to other communities supports this view.
“THE INTERVENTIONISTS succeeds very well in visually documenting the work of our MCITs and it is therefore a valuable tool for public education and awareness. I believe it will help spread the word…”
August 12th, 2007
There is arguably nothing more rewarding for a documentary filmmaker than to have a film become part of a political process.
This afternoon, we showed an excerpt of The Interventionists at a Toronto Police Services Board meeting. They run the police in our city. (When he introduced us, the Chair of the Board revealed he had attended our premiere at the Rendez Vous with Madness festival last fall. I had no idea!)
Dr. Ian Dawe, my co-presenter, then made a compelling argument for three recommendations to the Board about Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams.
1) Equal access to services across the city (there’s still big areas in the city without service)
2) Extension of hours of operation of the teams
3) Using the film to build awareness around mental heath throughout Police Services
Vice-Chair Pam McConnell said that the film “Gives us all a peek into not only the crises, but into the skills needed to do this important work.” She also talked about the need for proper supportive housing to prevent mental health crises from escalating in the first place.
Then, she moved to adopt a resolution in principle for all three recommendations, and to ask the Police Chief review and report on the current MCITs in the city, with a view to adjust the operational budget accordingly.
Police Chief Blair said the team has “proven its value” and that the Police are already actively looking to extend the reach.
The resolution passed unanimously.
Interestingly, we are cited in another item on today’s agenda. John Sewell of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition sent a letter to the Board reacting to the Police Chief’s recent request to purchase 3,000 tasers for 8.5 million dollars.
Sewell writes: “We note the Board will receive a presentation on the film ‘The Interventionists’ … We believe that the best way to respond to the kind of crises which provoke Taser use, is through such units. Currently, units are not available 24 hours a day throughout the city — they are used in only a few divisions, and only until 11 pm. The issue is money, and as our group has urged in the past, money is better spent on Mobile Crisis Units than on Tasers.”
And as we were leaving, the Board was about to discuss another very sad, related matter: the Police response to the Jury Recommendations from the Coroner’s Inquest into the Death of Otto Vass. Vass, diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, died while being taken into custody forcefully by the police in 2000.
That was the year the MCIT was just getting started. But, alas on the southeast side of town, not in the west where this event occurred. So there was no chance of ever finding out if MCIT might have prevented such a tragic outcome.
July 11th, 2007
There are some interesting comments on the cbc.ca/sunday site to our broadcast last sunday, including a note from the streetcar operator who witnessed the Edmund Yu shooting 10 years ago.
A few comments come from family members who have had experience with mental health crises. Two other commentators are critical of the nurse’s choice not to give one person a hug.
The “No Hugs Policy” scene often gets audiences talking. (In the film, after responding to a call involving a suicidal threat, after spending over an hour talking, one person asks the nurse for a hug as they are saying goodbye. The nurse tells him she does not give hugs, but offers to shake his hand).
Noteably, audiences with healthcare backgrounds tell me they understand why the nurse made this decision about her own personal space, while general audiences sometimes react disapprovingly.
But the most significant audience reaction I’ve had to the scene, came from a consumer survivor (a person who has had first-hand experience with the mental health system). A while back, we had asked her to provide commentary for our study guide to the film, and this is how she responded. (Her comments here, by the way, were spontaneous, I had not asked her specifically about the “No Hugs Policy.”)
She said: “…And I also thought it was really great that the nurse, that she was very clear about her boundaries. When you’re in crisis it’s very helpful when the folks who are assisting are very clear. This is who I am, this is what I can offer, this is what we’re going to do, These are your choices. I don’t give hugs. I thought she did a very good job with that.”
Many of her and others’ insights into the film and issues — in consumer survivors’ own voices — will be made available in The Study Guide, which we hope to release soon, so stay tuned.
March 14th, 2007
I’m shooting again. A new documentary.
It’s with the Suicide Studies Unit, and the idea comes from Yvonne, a feisty social worker. We’ve been developing this idea since Sept 2005. She’s hoping the film will help with her work.
For the last 7 years, Yvonne’s been running a group for people with recurrent suicide attempts – people who have attempted suicide 2 or more times. The weekly group programme seems to be helpful for the people who stay through the 20 weeks.
But the drop-out rate is high. Up to 40% drop out by mid-point each time she runs a new session, and Yvonne believes it may be because people may not know what they are getting into when they start. So our film will document 10 people in one group for 20 weeks, to follow the transformations and the process, starting this week. Then Yvonne will use the film with new people who are considering group.
It’s pure interventionist research, pure interventionist media.
I met individually with all nine people a few days ago, to explain the film, and the philosophy behind Filmmaker-in-Residence.
“Why have you chosen to be part of a group that will be filmed?” Yvonne asked each person. And the answers were resoundingly similar and clear. “To break the taboo on suicide, on mental health and to help others who may be going through the same thing.”
January 25th, 2007
Patients at Amanuel Psychiatric Hospital in Addis Ababa
When the US-backed Ethiopian government declared war against neighbouring Somalia last week, my first thoughts went to our nursing colleagues at the Amanuel Hospital in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia.
I met Fikadu and Sisay in October, when the two Ethiopian Mental Health nurses came to see how the Canadian system works at St. Mike’s. We had talked about how Filmmaker-in-Residence might support Fikadu and Sisay in their mission for clinical and educational reform for psychiatric nurses in Ethiopia.
In a country of 77 million, there is only one psychiatric hospital, staffed by 11 psychiatrists and approximately 230 psychiatric nurses. Until recently, Ethiopian doctors that pursued psychiatry had to leave the country to study, and once abroad, often stayed abroad.
Meanwhile, out on the land, families are left to to tend to relatives struggling with psychiatric issues on their own. They often turn to traditional healers and religious leaders for ritual cleansing, which comes at a high economic price for the families. When that doesn’t work, families desperate to tend their farms, sometimes resort to chaining psychiatric patients to trees during psychotic episodes.
That’s why Fikadu and Sisay have teamed up with nurses at St. Mike’s to change nursing practice and education in Ethiopia, and bring progressive mental health-care out into the communities.
But like in many developing countries, mental health often takes a back seat to emergency medical issues such as HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and other deadly diseases.
And now, with the news of renewed conflict, Fikadu and Sisay’s work is threatened on a whole new level.
“As soon as war breaks out, nurses are mobilized to the front,” Fikadu told Margaret Gehrs, of St. Michaels, during his visit. Fikadu worked as a nurse on the front in the Somali war in the late 70’s, and Sisay was a nurse in the war with Eritrea in 2000.
This all means that the public loses most of their medical people to deal with the wounds of war — and Mental Health is pushed even further aside.
Fikadu told Margaret that his biggest worry about the conflict in Somalia is, that it might spark more squirmishes in the north on the border with Eritrea, creating a prolonged, multi-party conflict situation.
We hope to hear from Fikadu soon for an update on how it all looks for them. I’ll keep you posted.
January 9th, 2007
Everytime I watch people watch one of my films, I see it through a new pair of eyes. A new point-of-view.
Today, we had a special screening of THE INTERVENTIONISTS with two consumer survivors (people who have had experience with the mental health system), both members of the Hospital’s Mental Health Community Advisory Panel. The verité film follows the work of a special team, a police officer and mental health nurse, responding to 911 calls involving “Emotionally Disturbed Persons.”
I wanted to include consumer survivors’ perspectives in our study guide, so we audio-recorded our fascinating, intense discussion as we went through the film, case-by-case.
Ann told us she related to the images shot from the back of the squad car, because it’s a place she’s been in before, as a consumer survivor. That locked-in, cramped back seat of a police vehicle. I spent 80 hours in that space. A few times, when the team did apprehend someone, I would snatch my camera bag from the back seat, and follow in a cab. But I had never thought that the images I filmed from that point-of-view would evoke the feeling of actually being in that space for an audience member. But of course. If you’ve been there, you know.
Aileen talked about what the call feels like from the point-of-view of the person involved - how being surrounded by many people in uniforms, all swarming, how disorienting that can be, and how its difficult to figure out who is actually in charge.
Ann also pointed out that when all the emergency response workers all cram into someone’s bedroom, how that lack of space, especially in low-income housing, how all that can add to the stress and escalation.
As we went through the case studies, they often commented on how the team, compared to the police on their own, are able to put a crisis in a larger context, and “unpack” the situation, with dignity and respect for the person in crisis.
Ann and Aileen also had a great idea: to include concrete suggestions for action in the study guide for the classroom setting. For example, to encourage high schools to implement Suicide Prevention Strategies, and Crisis Plans before a crisis happens. Or to include information for audiences to seek out change in their own communities, to decriminalize mental health crises in their own towns and cities.
The real work of FIR begins only once the film is actually finished!
January 5th, 2007