© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
Premier Robert Ghiz, left, walks into historic Province House in Charlottetown with The Guardian's Wayne Thibodeau to tape his year-end interview. A Conversation with Premier Robert Ghiz will be published Dec. 26 in The Guardian. A prime-time, one hour special will air the same day, Dec. 26 at 7:30 p.m. on Eastlink TV, channel 10 and high definition channel 610.
The veil must continue to be lifted on mental illness, Premier Robert Ghiz says.
In his annual year-end interview with The Guardian, the Prince Edward Island premier says there is no easy solutions to deal with the struggles mental illness can present.
But the first step, he said, is awareness.
“30 years ago, 20 years ago, it was something that was swept under the rug,” Ghiz said in the interview that will be published in The Guardian Dec. 26 and aired on Eastlink TV the same night at 7:30 p.m.
“Today, we’re actually discussing this on a year-end interview. It’s not something that people are ashamed of anymore, because they don’t have to be. This is an illness.”
Ghiz was reacting to the passionate plea of Dianne Young, whose son, Lennon Waterman, 29, is believed to have ended his life by leaping into the cold North River in November.
Waterman’s body has never been found.
Young said her son lived the past decade in utter turmoil, fuelled by drugs and, she believes, mental illness.
The grieving mother came forward to talk about her son’s tragic life in hopes of saving others.
More, she said, has to be done to help Islanders living with mental illness.
“I’m not going to blame addictions services or the mental health community or anything like that for my son’s death,” she told The Guardian last month.
Premier Robert Ghiz’s full year-end interview with The Guardian will be published in the Dec. 26 edition of The Guardian. A special, one-hour prime-time special A Conversation with Premier Robert Ghiz airs Dec. 26 at 7:30 p.m. on Eastlink TV, Channel 10 and HD Channel 610. The special will be rebroadcast Dec. 30 and 31 at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Jan. 1 at 9 a.m. and Jan. 2 at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
“But I want to say this – that most of the people that work in those areas have their hands tied and probably feel much like I do about how things are not working.
“Take a look, open your eyes,” she stressed. “People are dying. Something needs to be done.”
Ghiz agrees. His government added $1.2 million to deal with prescription drug addition and they appointed a specialist to come up with a long-term strategy to improve mental health and addictions services.
The Island premier knows even more needs to be done.
“If there was an easy solution, I would introduce it. There’s not,” said Ghiz.
“We need to make sure that there’s services available out there for people that have mental illness but it’s also about bringing awareness to the issue so that people can understand that this is an issue we have to deal with because this is a disease that can affect anyone at any time.”