The Truth about the Mental Health System on PEI

whackamole.jpgIt has been a stormy few months on the Island.  Someone I spoke to recently likened it to a game of Whack-A-Mole.   It’s almost frenetic as Islanders risk being vulnerable and speak up about challenges they have faced with their mental health, or a family member’s mental health, and their experiences in the health system.   And as practitioners in health speak out in frustration.  And as politicians offer solutions that may calm the storm, but don’t help navigate out of it.     

What is the truth about the mental health system?  For some it works well, for many it doesn’t.  HealthPEI has expertise in planning and policy development and in some areas PEI is ahead of the game nationally.   Yet there are gaps and long wait times and complaints that don’t get heard -  the implementation of programs feels disconnected and reactive rather than planful.  

I’m not sure you ever win a game of Whack-A-Mole.  I am told that success at Whack-A-Mole comes when you are adept at pushing the Moles back down and the reward is moving on to the next level where there are even more Moles popping up at an even greater pace.   Is there ever a time you succeed in getting all the moles under control and can move on and get back to the plan?  Or do we need to realize that this kind of response isn’t working and those in power are playing the wrong game?  

Because ultimately it is a choice for those in power regarding how they want to exercise that power.   

To quote one of my mentors: “Power is the potency to act for good”, or in other words, power is about these three concepts: capacity, action, and values.   Action alone results in Whack-A-Mole.   The capacity for good policy and strategic development exists within our system.   In order to make powerful change we need a deep, honest, collaborative, and inclusive discussion regarding the values that inform those actions.  That, in my opinion, is essential for moving forward in more navigable waters.  I recognize that it is hard to be vulnerable in Politics – hard to say to those in Opposition, or those who voice discontent:  “we need your help, we can’t do it alone” and to open up an honest and courageous dialogue in the spirit of collaboration.

I suggest that politicians become familiar with the work of Brene Brown, author of The Power of Vulnerability.  She has become known for writing about the simple concept that it is only by being vulnerable that we can form meaningful relationships and find solutions to the despair that we experience. I think that is a game worth playing.