Monday, August 10, 2009

Fredericton to Harding Point (Saint John)

August 10

This morning we were up and out bright and early and headed for the Fredericton City Hall. Sean Wilkinson of Xpert Office Products arranged for us to meet with Mayor Brad Woodside. Mayor Brad had some strong words to say about governments's role to help and support people with mental illness. Not enough is being done.

The story here is one all too familiar with Ontarians as well. Psychiatric hospital beds have been drastically reduced with the idea that consumers would receive services in the community. In theory - a good idea - stats show that community pyschiatric services such as Assertive Community Treatment Teams are effective in reducing costly hospital stays for those with serious mental illnesses. However, in practice -there has been very little help forthcoming; financial or otherwise, to establish these services.

At city hall we also had the opportunity to meet with individuals from several local mental health associations. The New Brunswick Schizophrenia Society is a volunteer association, mostly family members of individuals with schizophrenia. We connected immediately with the experiences of Barb, Mary Louise and Elizabeth; bewilderment and confusion at signs of onset, challenge to find on going support and services. The difficulties and strain on families is a common. The local branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association operates an exciting program called REACH: a social, recreational & pre-vocational program for adults (age 18 and over) who have experienced a mental illness.

Patti Blake took time out from her work on the event she is leading in Saint John tomorrow and drove Nelson and Mark up from Saint John to ride with us today. The weather, though not picture perfect for August was pretty OK for the riders - no rain, no wind, and no hot sun. Apart from brutal Petersville Hill, not bad at all.

I'm not going to lie. I was not just a little apprehensive about the last leg of the route today, I was downright scared. Yup, there was a ferry. I need say no more. It was a little cable ferry to shuttle vehicles across the river to the campground at Hardings Point. Don't worry Greg, we made it without incident this time.

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