Thursday, March 31, 2016

--Over her last two years, Emily had attempted several intentional over-the-counter medication overdoses for which treatment in the ICU was required each time. After the third overdose, Stephanie pleaded with the ER doctor, “Please do something, please help our child.” After the previous two overdoses, direction was to follow up with Mental Health. This time, the ER doctor sent Emily by ambulance the next morning to the Royal Alexandra Hospital to be assessed by a pediatric psychiatrist. After waiting in the Royal Alex ER for eight hours, Emily was seen by a Mental Health nurse for approximately 45 minutes, said Stephanie. The nurse spoke with the psychiatrist who informed Stephanie that Emily “was not at risk” and suggested that her regular psychiatrist change her medications.-------------In January 2013, in frustration after another crisis that Emily was experiencing, Stephanie emailed the Battle River Wainwright Member of the Legislative Assembly, Doug Griffiths for help. One month later, Emily was admitted to CASA House for a second time. She had spent four and a half months there in 2009 for behaviour and impulsivity issues. Acceptance in CASA House a second time was almost unheard of but reflected the urgency of Emily’s situation. While at CASA House this time, Stephanie and Rick were made aware that the funding for CASA House had been cut back and as a result, the average stay for adolescents was now 16 weeks versus the six or seven months in 2009. The treatment time was reduced to try to shorten the wait time for adolescents to get into CASA House. Stephanie and Rick met with Griffiths in June 2013 to express their concern over this cutback. The adolescents were leaving CASA House after 16 weeks and the parents were still feeling fearful that things with their child were going to go back to how they were and they were cautiously optimistic. “In 2009 when kids left CASA House, the parents told stories of success and optimism,” said Stephanie. “This time around, they were stories of fear. The staff and program at CASA House is fantastic but they are bound by financial constraints from the government,” she said. “There can’t be a timeline put on a child’s treatment,” Stephanie said. “The kids would say ‘fake it till you make it’ and for 16 weeks they can, but they can’t fake it for six or seven months. Emily stayed at CASA House for 21 weeks because she was so ill but she needed to stay longer. “She saw that kids who had arrived at CASA House after her were leaving before her so extending her stay at CASA House was becoming counterproductive because of her anxiety and issues due to BPD,” Stephanie said. “In 2009, each kid had to reach certain milestones in the program so they were each on their own schedule. If they ‘got with the program,’ they would be finished sooner.” According to Stephanie, the CASA House director said an additional twenty beds are needed in the facility to help shorten the approximate one year wait list.---------The RCMP shut the highway down for several hours and two investigators determined without a doubt that it was a suicide attempt, explained Stephanie. About 12 hours after the accident, a psychiatrist interviewed Emily, believed her story that it was an accident and yet again, she was discharged as though she was not at risk.------“Rick told the nurse about Emily’s history including the RCMP findings of the accident exactly one week earlier. Emily told the nurse she wasn’t suicidal and she didn’t have a plan.” But she did have a plan. The nurse phoned the on-call ER doctor and passed on the information and Rick’s concerns, Stephanie said. “Rick wanted Emily to be admitted and watched. The doctor determined over the phone that Emily was not at risk. She could be given a bed for the night but not watched constantly. As a result, Rick decided that he could watch her better at home. “I thought I could watch her more closely...” Rick said, his voice uneven, the emotion still raw. Approximately six hours later, in the early morning hours of November 18, 2013, with the wound on her leg from the accident still healing, she crawled out her bedroom window and without her crutches, walked down to the end of their street and ended her life. Despite their ongoing battles with the health system to save their daughter, “We fought so hard to keep her safe and our entire world has fallen apart and no one helped her,” said Stephanie.------“Del Graff highlighted our biggest frustration, why was it that we had to reach out to Children’s Services in desperation to try to keep Emily safe, even though time and time again, we went to medical professionals for help,” said Stephanie. “AHS in general consistently were not able to provide any options to keep her safe or effective treatment options.”

In today's Metro article I was introduced to the increase in suicides in Alberta. The article says that "AHS tackles the rise in suicides." Not many of us have any experience or interest in mental health issues but for families with these problems, they pervade the entire family with repercussions.

http://www.metronews.ca/news/edmonton/2016/03/30/ahs-tackles-increased-suicide-rate.html

Alberta Health Services tackles increased suicide rate

Suicides increase 30 per cent in Alberta in the first six months of 2015

As part of changes, following an increase in suicides in 2015, crisis teams can now respond in person when someone calls for help.
KEVIN TUONG / FOR METRO
As part of changes, following an increase in suicides in 2015, crisis teams can now respond in person when someone calls for help.
A 30 per-cent increase in suicides in the first six months of 2015 has focused efforts to ensure people in crisis are able to access resources in Edmonton.

“Half way through the year it was a really frightening trend,” said Mark Snaterse, director of addiction and mental health with Alberta Health Services in Edmonton. Snaterse says AHS is focused on ensuring Albertans know how to access services when they are in need.

In the past six months AHS has increased the resources to mental health teams embedded in emergency rooms at the Royal Alex and University hospitals. The 24/7 teams have been in place at the Royal Alex for two years, but expanded to the University in the last six months and is currently looking to enhance support teams at the Grey Nuns and Misrecordia.

The Royal Alex and University were chosen first as the two hospitals see 70 per cent of reported mental health incidents.

Support for the AHS funded public call boxes on the High Level Bridge have also been increased. The people on the other end of the line are now mobile and able to respond to calls.

“If people want, response teams are able to come out to their homes or meet in the community,” said Snaterse.

Alberta Health Services is participating in the City of Edmonton steering committee to create a city-specific strategy for suicide prevention. The initiative is looking at prevention issues related to demographics and geography specific influences on suicide, the results of which are due in September.

As well, new provincial funding has gone toward transition spaces for youth coming out of hospital. The provincial government increased funding for mental health supports by $10 million in the October budget. But was criticized for a lack of supports for psychiatry in the mental health review released last month.

“We’re in the midst of implementing the recommendations from the review,” says Associate Minister of Health Brandy Payne. “We’re looking at ways to focus on suicide prevention and ensure Albertans have access to mental health supports.”

Suicide statistics for 2015 have not been updated. There is an average of 500 to 550 a year. Last year there were 327 in the first six months. Payne says the province is looking at the demographics and will continue to monitor data as it becomes available.
****
Why are we seeing an increase in suicides? I believe it is an indication of the problems in the mental health services and supports in Alberta. It is difficult to find a psychiatrist and most doctors do not have a good background in psychiatric issues.  This leaves a great many holes in the system that families have to navigate so that their family members do not fall through and die.

Let us look at the response to emergency situations first.

The folks at AHS are trying to set up emergency mental health teams. In our family's experience this won't solve the problem. If doctors do not see the problems of handicapped citizens but instead prefer to downgrade their care status, I believe that the emergency mental health teams will similarly have problems in assessment and treatment of handicapped citizens.
Other emergency services exist but they can't do the work of hospitalization and treatment of the folks who are in distress:

http://distresscentre.com/news/2015/12/08/distress-centre-responds-to-cbc-article-on-increased-suicide-rates-in-alberta/

Distress Centre responds to CBC article on increased suicide rates in Alberta

Publish Date: Tuesday, December 08, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RE: Suicide rate in Alberta leaps 30% in wake of mass oilpatch layoffs
December 8, 2015
Distress Centre would like to provide some context and clarification on the article released by CBC on December 7th on the 30% increase in suicides in Alberta.
Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health has confirmed that there has been a 30% increase in deaths by suicide compared to 2014. This statistic is very alarming and we do not want to downplay the seriousness of that reality.
However, we feel the need to point out that suicide is an incredibly complex issue that can be caused by a variety of factors, as pointed out by David Kirby, Clinical Services Manager at Distress Centre, in the article.
Simply reporting the number of deaths doesn't tell us enough to draw conclusions. Demographic details like how these numbers break down by age group, in what areas of the province, by gender, by ethnicity all tell us a very different story as risks and rates of suicide differ in all these factors. Having this type of information would allow us to discern some of the contributing factors, but it still does not determine causation.
“These stats are very concerning, and they are a start to helping us understand the big picture of how suicide in Alberta is changing,” says Joan Roy, Executive Director of Distress Centre, “But at the human level, suicide is devastating to individuals, families and communities. The most important thing we can do is to encourage people to reach out, both those who are suffering and those who have lost someone to suicide. We need to make sure that supports are available in the moment they need them.”
While we do expect that the economic situation in our province will factor into the picture of suicide in Alberta, this is generally an impact we expect to see over time, not necessarily in the immediate time frame of layoffs.
We must also consider other serious events in Alberta; we are now two years post-flood and research shows that the majority of psychosocial impacts occur in the second year post-disaster. This is another important factor when considering why suicide rates may be higher this year.
Our crisis contacts are up 4% this year compared to last year, but calls related to suicide are holding steady at 7-8% of total calls, comparable to what was seen in 2014.
All that said, we do not want to downplay the effect the economy has had on the mental well-being of Calgarians and Albertans. Mental health related concerns are the most often cited issue to our crisis services, with stress often relating to financial worry and layoffs. We are pleased that the provincial Mental Health Review is currently underway. We are optimistic that this will lead to changes in the accessibility and availability of mental health services.
We want to emphasize that there is help and support available to anyone who is struggling; with the economy, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, or if you just need someone to talk to.
Call Distress Centre 24 hours a day at 403-266-HELP (4357). Chat online with us at distresscentre.com from 3-10pm MST daily. Access our professional, short-term counselling by calling our crisis line and asking for an intake to counselling. Call 211 24/7 to get referrals to community, government and social service organizations. All of our services are free of charge. 
**********************************
The high suicide rates in Alberta are nothing new. They seem have been accepted by government. Or why else would we have mental health reports and no action taken?

It is up to families to do the work that is not being done in government. But how much can families do? We are all busy and without specialized hospitals and treatment we will not be able to save our own. It's just not possible to do the work of helping mentally ill people without a team of complex care workers who actually understand mental illness. Its no good having regular nurses and aides because this area requires specialized well trained and compassionate staff that is presently not in place in Alberta.

The problems are especially acute for our young children who are suffering from psychiatric illness. There is a dearth of child psychiatrists and the ones we have like Dr. Levinsky are overworked.
We need more specialists and we need quicker access to these resources.

Recently the Child and Youth Advocate presented yet another distressing report on yet another child who has killed herself.


http://www.starnews.ca/article_4a1b113e-6928-11e5-885c-ff88f3a6ac21.html

Child and Youth Advocate investigative review over local 17-year old girl’s suicide

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Emily Taylor

Emily Taylor



Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 11:09 am
Kelly Clemmer, Editor-in-Chief | 0 comments
The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate has completed an Investigative Review regarding the suicide of a young woman and is publicly releasing the results of the review as outlined under the Child and Youth Advocate Act.
Seventeen-year old Emily Catherine Taylor was found deceased near her family’s home in Wainwright in 2013.
The Office of the Youth Advocate used the name “Catherine” in their investigation.
“At the time of her death, she was the subject of an open Screening with Child Intervention Services. Catherine’s parents felt overwhelmed with her behaviours and sought help through the children’s mental health system.
“Catherine received mental health services from a young age and her death has raised questions about the response to youth who are at very high-risk for suicide,“ said Del Graff, Provincial Child and Youth Advocate. “This is also the fifth report from my office involving a young person taking their life, and the fact that they turned to suicide is very troubling.”
The recommendations in this review must be acted on to improve supports and services for Alberta’s young people, wrote Graff.
The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate is an independent office of the Legislature, representing the rights, interests and viewpoints of children and young people receiving designated government services.
“We were very pleased with the review by the OCYA,” said Stephanie and Rick Taylor, Emily’s parents. “It was very difficult and emotional for us to read it as we re-lived the painful and heartbreaking challenges we went through again.
“Del Graff highlighted our biggest frustration, why was it that we had to reach out to Children’s Services in desperation to try to keep Emily safe, even though time and time again, we went to medical professionals for help,” said Stephanie. “AHS in general consistently were not able to provide any options to keep her safe or effective treatment options.”
The OCYA review is complete, and now an MLA-led mental health review is being conducted, plus the investigation that was done right after Emily’s death which put forward recommendations to help youth at risk of suicide.
“We are incredibly hopeful that these two reviews might finally help the government to see that changes must be made to keep our at-risk children safe and to get them the help and treatment that they need and deserve, and they need to implement those changes.
In Del Graff’s report, he pointed out that there were five other incidents through his office involving a young person taking their life, in somewhat similar circumstances.
“We were not surprised to hear about the five other children,” said Stephanie. “In our journey since Emily’s death, we have met far too many other parents who have lost their children to suicide. These are five stories we have heard about, there are hundreds we haven’t heard about.”
Both Rick and Stephanie Taylor continue to fight for and advocate for mental health help for children.
“I again want to encourage parents who have a child who is at-risk, to continue to fight for them,” she said. “Be persistent with the doctor at the ER. Talk to your MLA on a regular basis and demand changes.
“Every day we hear about more lives lost too soon. The lack of mental health funding goes unnoticed, as it usually doesn’t impact us until we are personally affected by someone who struggles with mental health issues or tragically, suicide,” said Stephanie.
The Taylors want to see the implementation of the AHS Recommendations that were made following the investigation into Emily’s death.
Emily wasn’t the first; there are countless families whose stories of loss echo ours,” she said. “Yes, that costs a lot of money but the life of a child is priceless, you only need ask that of a bereaved mother, father or sibling.”
The Minister of Human Services Irfan Sabir issued a statement in response to the Child and Youth Advocate’s Investigative Report.
“The Child and Youth Advocate, Del Graff, released a report on the death of a child, and identified the need for improvements in the area of mental health services. We accept his recommendations and work has already begun on some of the important issues he addresses,” said Sabir.
“This is a tragic loss, and our thoughts continue to be with the family and those who cared for her,” said Sabir. “It’s clear that we need to do better when it comes to supporting Albertans with mental health challenges.
“Our government takes the issue of mental health seriously. This is why in our interim supply bill we added $5 million into mental health funding. This money is being invested into services and supports to assist children and their caregivers to address mental health challenges,” said the Minister of Human Services.
“Our government is also conducting a review of Alberta’s mental health system, with the goal of improving the lives of Albertans who are facing mental health challenges,” he said.
“We initiated the Mental Health Review on June 15 - this non-partisan initiative, led by MLAs Danielle Larivee and David Swann, will ensure that all Albertans can access quality care and the supports they need. We will continue to collaborate with the Health Ministry to make progress on this serious issue,” said Sabir.


**********************
The parents of Emily raise the most important question for all families with family members who suffer from mental illness--why isn't there an effective mental health system present? Why did this family for example have to go beyond the health care system to the social services system to get the help that AHS was not able to provide for their daughter?

It's a good question and it requires answers.
My feeling is that this mental health system is nowhere present for any citizen in Alberta and this is why there was no child psychiatric system for Emily.


http://www.starnews.ca/article_4a1b113e-6928-11e5-885c-ff88f3a6ac21.html

“Del Graff highlighted our biggest frustration, why was it that we had to reach out to Children’s Services in desperation to try to keep Emily safe, even though time and time again, we went to medical professionals for help,” said Stephanie. “AHS in general consistently were not able to provide any options to keep her safe or effective treatment options.”

**************************************************************
The medical professionals who are not psychiatrists do not have the skills required to treat mental illness in my opinion. I mean mental illness is not like a cold or flu. It requires time to work with a patient and to establish a medication regime that may or may not be effective over time. Some patients are not stable ever. There is the problem of lack of psychiatrists. There is the problem of lack of hospital places. There is the problem of the community at large not understanding mental illness.  There is the horror of the illness itself and the stigma / shame of the revelation of the illness. When you are backed into the mental illness corner there is a catastrophe of enormous proportions that happens in a family and it takes all you have to even help the person with the illness.  In Emily's case, her parents worked ceaselessly to get her help.  This story is the story of every family advocating for a mentally ill family member. You won't understand the tragedy of this family's story unless you have been through this hell yourself.

In Emily's case she gave indications of her crisis and yet she was still lost. Rick and Stephanie Taylor share their daughter's story in order to present to us the interlocking nature of mental illness and suicide--how one illness can result in a prematurely ended life. Sadness and hopelessness in a child can result in suicide.

http://www.starnews.ca/news/article_722cea52-03b8-11e4-a360-0017a43b2370.htm

“People die from cancer and other illnesses. People die from suicide as well when they feel hopeless and incredible sadness because of their mental health,” said Stephanie.

The family refutes the shame and stigma of mental illness. They say instead this shame and stigma should be attached to the health care system that failed their child.

http://www.starnews.ca/news/article_722cea52-03b8-11e4-a360-0017a43b2370.htm

“There is no shame, there should be only sadness and anger and frustration that the mental health system failed them,” said Stephanie.


I have to agree with Stephanie. Mental illness is like a psychic cancer of the mind. We have all the helps possible for a cancer of the body  but very little for the psychic cancer of the mind. Why is this?

Again I believe this is due to shame and stigma. Families don't talk about mental illness and so it is hidden from the public. Even though the incidence is high we don't talk about mental illness. We don't talk and so we don't have a public discussion of the problems families face with the lack of supports and services for their mentally ill family members.
What happens is that mental health is a secret- the one secret no one talks about and so there isn't the public accountability for the lack of supports.



http://www.starnews.ca/news/article_722cea52-03b8-11e4-a360-0017a43b2370.html

A LIFE TOO SHORT - A local family’s story of frustration, mental illness and suicide

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Emily Taylor

Emily Taylor



Posted: Friday, July 4, 2014 2:19 pm
Kelly Clemmer, Editor-in-Chief | 0 comments
Seven months ago, Rick and Stephanie Taylor of Wainwright lost their 17-year-old daughter Emily to suicide.
The family is sharing their painful story to bring awareness to mental illness and suicide, so that other families who may be dealing with children with mental illness and thoughts of suicide may seek the help they need. They also want to bring awareness to CASA House, which is the only in-patient adolescent treatment facility of its kind in the province.
“People die from cancer and other illnesses. People die from suicide as well when they feel hopeless and incredible sadness because of their mental health,” said Stephanie.
“There is no shame, there should be only sadness and anger and frustration that the mental health system failed them,” said Stephanie.
About one in five Albertans will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, and about half of all mental illnesses start by age 14.
“Emily had Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) but because she wasn’t yet 18 years old, she could only be diagnosed with ‘BPD traits’. As a result, she couldn’t receive the DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) treatment she needed which is offered at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton,” explained Stephanie.
Over her last two years, Emily had attempted several intentional over-the-counter medication overdoses for which treatment in the ICU was required each time. After the third overdose, Stephanie pleaded with the ER doctor, “Please do something, please help our child.”
After the previous two overdoses, direction was to follow up with Mental Health. This time, the ER doctor sent Emily by ambulance the next morning to the Royal Alexandra Hospital to be assessed by a pediatric psychiatrist. After waiting in the Royal Alex ER for eight hours, Emily was seen by a Mental Health nurse for approximately 45 minutes, said Stephanie. The nurse spoke with the psychiatrist who informed Stephanie that Emily “was not at risk” and suggested that her regular psychiatrist change her medications.
Yet again, Emily’s parents were left feeling frustrated and lost with their worry about Emily.
In January 2013, in frustration after another crisis that Emily was experiencing, Stephanie emailed the Battle River Wainwright Member of the Legislative Assembly, Doug Griffiths for help. One month later, Emily was admitted to CASA House for a second time. She had spent four and a half months there in 2009 for behaviour and impulsivity issues. Acceptance in CASA House a second time was almost unheard of but reflected the urgency of Emily’s situation. While at CASA House this time, Stephanie and Rick were made aware that the funding for CASA House had been cut back and as a result, the average stay for adolescents was now 16 weeks versus the six or seven months in 2009. The treatment time was reduced to try to shorten the wait time for adolescents to get into CASA House. Stephanie and Rick met with Griffiths in June 2013 to express their concern over this cutback. The adolescents were leaving CASA House after 16 weeks and the parents were still feeling fearful that things with their child were going to go back to how they were and they were cautiously optimistic.
“In 2009 when kids left CASA House, the parents told stories of success and optimism,” said Stephanie.
“This time around, they were stories of fear. The staff and program at CASA House is fantastic but they are bound by financial constraints from the government,” she said.
“There can’t be a timeline put on a child’s treatment,” Stephanie said. “The kids would say ‘fake it till you make it’ and for 16 weeks they can, but they can’t fake it for six or seven months. Emily stayed at CASA House for 21 weeks because she was so ill but she needed to stay longer.
“She saw that kids who had arrived at CASA House after her were leaving before her so extending her stay at CASA House was becoming counterproductive because of her anxiety and issues due to BPD,” Stephanie said. “In 2009, each kid had to reach certain milestones in the program so they were each on their own schedule. If they ‘got with the program,’ they would be finished sooner.”
According to Stephanie, the CASA House director said an additional twenty beds are needed in the facility to help shorten the approximate one year wait list.
Emily was discharged from CASA House in July 2013. She had plans to do well in Grade 12 and to make better choices with friends, her mother said. “People with BPD have impulsivity issues and problems with relationships,” she said.
Stephanie explained that by the end of September, Emily had yet again overdosed after facing some parental consequences over choices she had made. As a result, her parents took her license. After the fourth overdose, Emily had continued to participate in counselling with a private psychologist and things seemed to be going along OK, Stephanie said.
On November 10, Emily tricked her parents into getting the keys to her truck and took off towards Edmonton. Around the Ministik School, she intentionally drove into a semi transport truck at about 140 km per hour.
Amazingly, she survived.
The truck driver swerved and Emily hit the side of the cab of the truck. Her truck rolled a few times and ended up in the south ditch. She wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and she miraculously survived with a large gash on her leg, a knocked out tooth and some other cuts and scrapes. She was transported via STARS Air Ambulance to the U of A Hospital, accompanied by an RCMP officer with a mental health examination ordered, Stephanie explained.
Emily’s mom will never forget the phone call she received from a pastor at the Tofield Alliance Church who was at the scene of the collision. “It was a phone call I had never wanted to receive,” Stephanie said.
The pastor stayed on the phone with Stephanie as the emergency crews arrived. “I will never forget the sound of hearing sirens on the phone and hearing Emily’s name being called out by the good Samaritans. The pastor tried to keep me calm and informed,” Stephanie said.
The pastor who called Stephanie that night, was the pastor who eventually led Emily’s funeral service only a short week and a half later.
The RCMP shut the highway down for several hours and two investigators determined without a doubt that it was a suicide attempt, explained Stephanie. About 12 hours after the accident, a psychiatrist interviewed Emily, believed her story that it was an accident and yet again, she was discharged as though she was not at risk.
“She denied it. We were in shock and we wanted to believe her and weren’t thinking clearly,” said Stephanie. “Why did a psychiatrist believe her with her history?” The RCMP found a suicide note in her truck. The note was brought to the hospital with the escorting RCMP officer.
“Wasn’t writing a suicide note not sufficient enough for her to be considered at risk?” pleaded Stephanie.
One week later, the evening of November 17, Emily’s parents were concerned about her mental health status. She was taken to the Wainwright ER at around 8 p.m. and the on-duty nurse spoke with Emily alone in an examination room, Stephanie said. “Rick told the nurse about Emily’s history including the RCMP findings of the accident exactly one week earlier. Emily told the nurse she wasn’t suicidal and she didn’t have a plan.”
But she did have a plan.
The nurse phoned the on-call ER doctor and passed on the information and Rick’s concerns, Stephanie said.
“Rick wanted Emily to be admitted and watched. The doctor determined over the phone that Emily was not at risk. She could be given a bed for the night but not watched constantly.
As a result, Rick decided that he could watch her better at home. “I thought I could watch her more closely...” Rick said, his voice uneven, the emotion still raw.
Approximately six hours later, in the early morning hours of November 18, 2013, with the wound on her leg from the accident still healing, she crawled out her bedroom window and without her crutches, walked down to the end of their street and ended her life. Despite their ongoing battles with the health system to save their daughter, “We fought so hard to keep her safe and our entire world has fallen apart and no one helped her,” said Stephanie.
Alberta Health Services launched an investigation the day after Emily’s death. The investigation was called to determine what happened in Emily’s case and how to avoid this happening again. The Taylors have been advised that the investigation report should be completed by July 2014.
The Taylors have also launched complaints against three doctors who they feel directly failed Emily, including the doctor that did not come into emergency the night she died.
That doctor has since moved out of the community.
“It has been so incredibly difficult moving on with life without Emily. We miss her terribly,” said Stephanie.
The Taylor family is moving from Wainwright in July, after being in the community for five years.
For Stephanie, she’s found support through The Walking Through Grief Society and especially through a friend she met through a Facebook Suicide Support Group. “Heather lost her 16 year old daughter one month before Emily’s death in the same way. She’s in a small town in Ohio and she has been my rock. We are there for each other as we know 100 per cent what the other is going through,” she said.
For Rick, it’s going to take time. “The help is there if I need it,” he said, referring to help through the military. “You never forget. Sometimes now we are able to talk about the funny things she would say or do, but that has taken some time.”
“To parents out there who are fighting to get help for their kids, never stop fighting,” said Stephanie. “Whether you have to fight to get doctors or the government to help, keep fighting. They have to start taking mental health disorders in adolescents more seriously and provide the treatment they need.
“There needs to be more in-patient treatment facilities for these ill kids,” she said. “Losing your child to suicide is a pain that is so unbelievable.
“We think about Emily every hour of every day and we still feel like maybe this is a terrible dream that we will wake from - that she will come bounding in the front door with all of her feistiness and energy again,” said Stephanie.
“The government has to do something more to help these kids, so that no parents will ever have to go through this hell.”

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As you can see the life of a mentally ill patient in Alberta is very risky. Doctors do not believe that patients are at risk even with a suicide note provided to them by an RCMP officer. This is simply unbelievable but there you go.


In Emily's case the doctor who diagnosed her over the phone seemed to have assessed her as being intact when all the evidence provided by the family indicated repeated determined efforts to end her life. So my question is why did all these doctors think she was not at risk when even an ordinary mum like myself feels --just from reading her history that she was definitely at risk of committing harm to herself?

Why was there no action taken to commit her to a psychiatric institution for care?  Why is there no facility that can take these children long term? Because mental illness isn't something quick that solves itself--these children require long term help and hospitalization stays.

Even when advocates are present to provide assistance to their mentally ill family members, it won't be of much use to have knowledgeable advocates --will it ---if the professionals can't do the work of diagnosis?  These citizens will require strong advocates accompanying them to emergencies---but these advocates cannot do the work of the medical team. In the case of this family they obviously understood that their child was at risk but the response at their local medical centre was inadequate.  Their child died as a consequence of knowledge deficits in the system that do not seem to have been addressed even with the AHS investigation and the Child and Youth Advocate report.

At least this family got the results of the AHS report. I am still waiting for the investigation of the respiratory care at my sister's facility. It may be that these reports are only released with sufficient media attention. In this case AHS released the report and the family is hopeful that change will happen.


http://www.starnews.ca/news/article_c33ec3bc-b39d-11e4-a787-0346f9dbc03f.html

AHS present recommendations from Emily Taylor investigation

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The Taylor's

The Taylor's



Posted: Friday, February 13, 2015 9:31 am
Kelly Clemmer, Editor-in-Chief | 0 comments
On November 18, 2013, 17 year old Emily Taylor died by suicide after going to the local emergency room the night before, but was sent home.
She was triaged at the ER and was determined not to be certifiable under the Mental Health Act. The doctor, who no longer resides in Wainwright, did not attend the ER that night.
After a series of what Emily’s parents Rick and Stephanie Taylor called ‘system-wide problems’ following Emily’s death, an investigation was launched by Alberta Health Services.
The AHS report and a summary of system-related recommendations was recently released to the Taylors.
The five recommendations are:
1) Suicide Risk Assessment.
2) Mental Health Resources for triaged adolescents.
3) Help for children/youth and families in crisis due to self harm and/or suicidal behaviour.
4) Access to future services to support the rural adolescent mental health patient and;
5) Coordination of services for the complex mental health adolescent patient.
For Stephanie and Rick, the recommendations are a good start and look forward to seeing them implemented.
“We were pretty pleased to see this, it was nice to hear that they weren’t just giving us lip service,” said Stephanie.
The report basically took a year for the team to investigate, including talking to 21 care providers about Emily’s case, that night, and what lead up to November 18, 2013.
In recommendation #1, risk assessment will be carried out by a specially trained child and youth addiction and mental health staff member (ie psychiatric nurses or social workers) in all emergency departments, starting in the Central Zone with consideration for broader provincial implementation. The proposed implementation date is Sept. 30, 2015.
“Risk assessment is huge,” said Stephanie. “The ER staff don’t always know what to do.”
The second recommendation outlines creating a service model that allows for the provision of around-the-clock emergency access to addictions and mental health resources for children and youth.
“In one of our trips to emerg, they told us their hands were tied,” said Stephanie. “The change to around-the-clock resources is great.”
In recommendation #3, AHS is looking to the Addiction and Mental Health Strategic Clinical Network to review and provide clinical guidance on care pathways and services for children and youth with personality disorder traits and specifically with persistent self harm behaviours.
One of the things that frustrated the Taylor family was even after Emily was in a structured care facility, once she was discharged, there was little in the way of options for follow up or continued care.
“To have treatment options is awesome,” said Stephanie. “When she was discharged from CASA House, there was no one to take her on in the community.”
For Rick, the most important part is recommendation #5, the coordination of services.
“Sharing information is the most important part,” said Rick. “Sharing of records would have clearly helped that night.”
One thing the Taylors would like to see is the sharing of best practices among the provinces, since the issue of youth mental health is not just an Alberta one.
“Why wouldn’t you share it?” said Stephanie.
The Taylors are pleased with the recommendations and that each one has a proposed implementation date, although the key will be AHS sticking to their recommendations.
“We really have no way of knowing if it’s going to happen, but we’re hoping that by putting it out to the public that it will keep the pressure on for these recommendations to happen,” said Rick.
There are ongoing meetings and more investigations continuing, including from the Office of the Children and Youth Advocates, which will also generate a public report, and they are advocating for more beds at CASA House, a mental health facility for children and youth near Edmonton.
Not only did AHS launch an investigation, but the Taylors also made formal complaints against three doctors that were involved in releasing Emily from emergency rooms during the final weeks before she took her own life.
Stephanie explained that the College of Physicians and Surgeons investigation found that one of the doctors did nothing wrong, but the other two made mistakes, but no formal action was taken against the doctors.
“The other two did not act how they should have,” said Stephanie. “We have 51 pages from their report, we were told that changes have been implemented into their practice.”
Rick explained that they did go to a lawyer, who did feel that they could win a civil case against the doctors, with a maximum cap of receiving $82,000 if they win.
“We were looking for accountability more than anything,” said Rick. “Getting money is not the approach we want. Getting $82,000 does not bring Emily back. We don’t want to do that, we want to get the message out, we want to be advocates and do whatever we need to do.
“It’s about making a real difference and creating change,” said Stephanie. “The advocacy has helped in our healing.”
Having concrete recommendations is something that the Taylors want to see continue regarding mental health for children and youth.
“It’s huge for me,” said Stephanie. “It’s a legacy for Emily. She will not be forgotten, and the system is going to change because of Emily. The system failed her, but hopefully this will help parents that bring their kid into an emergency room in the future.”
*******************************************

But will change really happen? The fourth recommendation in this AHS report still isn't happening for all mentally ill citizens so I doubt it is happening for mentally ill kids:

http://www.starnews.ca/news/article_c33ec3bc-b39d-11e4-a787-0346f9dbc03f.html

5) Coordination of services for the complex mental health adolescent patient.

Without coordination of services, there is always those holes in the system. And the holes are very big. Its a very difficult thing to have to tell the same history to multiple providers at different instances of hospitalization and I don't understand why there cannot be a single history chart in the green sleeve of every patient. This green sleeve could go with the family to the emergency and have the personal directive information as well as the up to date information on the mental health of the patient. Instead of this sort of one chart families have to recount the history of the patient over and over with problems in finding the information or remembering the medications. It's a simple thing but it should be addressed with the one chart format in a green sleeve type of document repository.

http://www.starnews.ca/news/article_c33ec3bc-b39d-11e4-a787-0346f9dbc03f.html

For Rick, the most important part is recommendation #5, the coordination of services.
“Sharing information is the most important part,” said Rick. “Sharing of records would have clearly helped that night.”

With reference to the biggest hole-it has to be risk assessment.

http://www.starnews.ca/news/article_c33ec3bc-b39d-11e4-a787-0346f9dbc03f.html

In recommendation #1, risk assessment will be carried out by a specially trained child and youth addiction and mental health staff member (ie psychiatric nurses or social workers) in all emergency departments, starting in the Central Zone with consideration for broader provincial implementation. The proposed implementation date is Sept. 30, 2015.
“Risk assessment is huge,” said Stephanie. “The ER staff don’t always know what to do.”

Really there is no interest in my mind among emergency doctors to do any sort of risk assessment on mentally ill folks. There interest is to stabilize temporarily and discharge. That's big at the hospitals like the Grey Nuns Hospital where my own sister was discharged numerous times when her actual problems had to be determined by family members.  Why is this? I guess once you have a label, that label is enough to make you unworthy of risk assessment, follow up and proper medical care.
The amount of follow up is nil and so if this family is able to start a culture of follow up at AHS or really any sector of the health care system this is a big thing.

http://www.starnews.ca/news/article_c33ec3bc-b39d-11e4-a787-0346f9dbc03f.html

In recommendation #3, AHS is looking to the Addiction and Mental Health Strategic Clinical Network to review and provide clinical guidance on care pathways and services for children and youth with personality disorder traits and specifically with persistent self harm behaviours.
One of the things that frustrated the Taylor family was even after Emily was in a structured care facility, once she was discharged, there was little in the way of options for follow up or continued care.

It makes me wonder if these mentally ill folks will ever get the coordinated services in a complex care team format that is required.  If you just look at the number of folks with mental illness who seem to self medicate with alcohol, end up in jail and die in these places, it seems to be evidence that we are not doing a good job in terms of assessment at all but are instead labelling people with mental illness and addiction so that we don't have to bother with more in-depth work ups.


The family has been cheated.
There are no consequences for the doctors or really any health professionals if their dealings with patients result in death. We don't have a culture of accountability in health or in continuing care. We are supposed to accept abuse and death as something that just happens--a human error type of thing. But why do we accept this sort of ruling?  We don't accept errors in the design of cars that result in death to be without liability issues. And yet in the health care and continuing care system, the abuse and fatalities of patients -especially our most vulnerable mentally ill patients is considered to be part of the risks of group care.
It's nonsense.

Folks must be held accountable. These are our most vulnerable citizens.
We want change in mental health services, delivery and follow up.
We won't stay silent any more.
We will continue to advocate for these most helpless and precious family members.
This family has lost their baby.
The community has lost a child.
Albertans need to do better than this.
Much better.
Start by talking to your MLAs about the failures in the mental health system and the need for long term supports and services for the mentally ill.
It's a shame and a stigma on AHS and Alberta Health that families and their loved ones go through hell to only lose their children in this way.
It's a shame and a stigma.
But did we fail Emily?
I guess if we don't speak up we did fail her.
But what if we did speak up--day after day and still there was no action taken by the government of Alberta?
I guess then we didn't fail her; the government of Alberta failed her.
But government will not do it's job until media attention is focused on the issues that matter for families.
This issue matters.
Speak up Albertans.


http://www.starnews.ca/opinions/article_dfd96a26-06ba-11e4-acce-001a4bcf6878.html

We failed Emily

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Kelly Clemmer

Kelly Clemmer



Posted: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 10:13 am
Kelly Clemmer, editor-in-chief | 0 comments
The mental health system in Alberta failed Emily Taylor. We failed Emily Taylor.
The 17-year old took her own life overnight on November 18, after being released by a doctor (over the phone) into her parent’s care. Emily was obviously battling the demons of mental illness for a long time.
The weekend before, after tricking her parents to get the keys, she drove her truck into an oncoming semi-truck near Edmonton. Emily tried to end her life then, but survived with only minor physical injuries. Emily’s mother, Stephanie, said she was being watched over by an angel.
Emily convinced everyone it was an accident, and although she had written a suicide note, she convinced her parents she wouldn’t have hurt anyone else.
Was she kept by the mental health system, placed in a secure facility where she couldn’t hurt herself? No. She was released to her parents.
The night she died, she was taken to the hospital for assessment because her parents recognized she was at risk. Instead of being taken seriously, the doctor (who has since moved from the community) said she was “not at risk.” This was not just one doctor’s error, this played out multiple times in Emily’s short life.
Emily knew how to play the game and said the right things, but the mental health system and professionals should better recognize those risks and have proper spaces available to help those kids who are at risk.
Emily’s parents did everything they could for her, trying desperately to get her some sort of help or into treatment, trying to place her somewhere she could be helped by trained professionals.
There are serious holes in how mental health is handled for children and teens and not enough spaces for those at critical risk.
Instead of protecting her, the system spit her back out. To their credit, Alberta Health Services is investigating what happened and the family has lodged complaints against three different doctors.
Places like CASA House, one of the few places in Alberta for youth that struggle with mental health issues, need to have a larger stake in this issue, with more spaces and more specially trained psychiatrists to help these kids before it’s too late for them.
Mental illness is something that we cannot ignore, while children and teens are some of the most vulnerable to thoughts of suicide when they are introduced to the mixed bag of antidepressants, which aren’t always the answer.
It is outrageous that the mental health system, our mental health system, dropped the ball and this girl paid the price.
Emily deserved better.
She deserved to live.