Recovery from mental illness requires more support on P.E.I.

Ryan Ross
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FILE PHOTO: Millie King heads into a P.E.I. Human Rights Commission panel hearing in Charlottetown. King filed a complaint alleging her daughter faced discrimination because of her mental illness.

Human rights hearing continues for second day in discrimination complaint against provincial government

Mental illness can be disabling, but people do get better, says a spokesman for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Reid Burke, executive director of the group's P.E.I. division, said for that to happen people need support in order to recover.

"No question," he said.

Burke testified yesterday during the second day of a P.E.I. Human Rights Commission panel hearing in Charlottetown into a discrimination complaint against the provincial government.

Millie King represented her daughter, Laura King, at the hearing.

Laura has schizophrenia and was initially diagnosed with a form of psychosis in 2011.

Since that diagnosis she and her mother have been trying to get her support through the province's disability support program, but it doesn't cover people with mental illness.

RELATED: Mother claims discrimination on P.E.I. against mentally ill daughter

Burke told the panel the disability support program doesn't address the complexities of mental illness.

It would be a problem to include people with mental illness in a system not designed for them, he said.

Millie also continued her testimony yesterday, and the hearing was closed to the public briefly while personal details of Laura's illness were discussed.

As part of her testimony, Millie discussed a response sent to the province earlier this month about remedies sought to resolve the complaint.

Actually, for me it has been just heartbreaking. Millie King

Included in that response was a request for $10,000 to cover costs for Millie and Laura to move to Ontario.

In Ontario, Laura would apply to that province's disability support program, which Millie said takes about three to six months to get accepted.

During that time, Laura sought $1,000 per month until she is accepted.

Millie also sought wages and benefits until she turns 65 or secures comparable employment in Ontario to what she has in P.E.I. as a nurse.

The response also sought $100,000 for hurt and humiliation.

Laura's initial human rights complaint sought $1.4 million from the province, but Millie said she wasn't well at that point and since sent an apology letter to the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission.

During Millie's testimony, the panel heard social assistance pays Laura about $300 a month for food, clothing, household personal items and travel while the two live together.

On the stand, Millie, who works in mental health for the province, said a human rights complaint wasn't her first choice and she felt like she was being disloyal to her employer.

"Actually, for me it has been just heartbreaking," she said.

Organizations: P.E.I. Human Rights Commission, Canadian Mental Health Association

Geographic location: P.E.I., Ontario, Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Taxpayer
    January 15, 2016 - 09:40

    I think it's absolutely ridiculous what this woman is asking for in these poor economic times. Let's get real here.

    • Josh Lewis
      January 23, 2016 - 11:07

      @taxpayer Thanks for letting us know you don't have a heart. If she had a physical disability you would likely have no issues with what she is asking. Stop propagating the stigma

  • Bill kays
    January 15, 2016 - 09:05

    Good luck recovering after the almighty ISLANDERS find out about your problems you might as well pack your bag

  • Disability and support
    January 15, 2016 - 08:06

    Disability and support did not cover a family member of a young adult who has a disability on the autistic spectrum because they were high functioning .. even tho there are struggles for employment .education.housing .. Because mental issues were co concurrent ..mostly due to enviroment judgement of societal and systemic abuse of lack of acceptance ..difficulty succeeding in the social order social anxiety .depression ..the mental was secondary factor to a confirmed disability and as I said not placed on DSP program overcome obstacles to gain financial independance ...slipped though the cracks on all levels ..

  • Josh Lewis
    January 15, 2016 - 06:49

    It's absolutely disgusting and unacceptable that our disability support system doesn't cover people with mental illness. The people involved in administrating this program should be ashamed of themselves. Mental illness is just as much of a disability as physical ailments. It makes people's lives miserable robs them of their ability to function in everyday life. In many cases it makes people suicidal. Hundreds if not thousands of Islanders are suffering from depression and mental illnesses. Some people are dying. They need help. No help = illness gets worse. This province's entire approach to mental health is embarrassing. We don't have nearly enough mental health professionals and many people are on waiting lists of two years or more. The supply is just not enough for the demand. Some of these people suffer from severe, life-threatening depression and they can't even see someone for help. Our government seems to be either completely unaware of how bad the situation is or ignoring it. In a small city in Western Canada I saw a counsellor within two weeks of calling. Here it took me seven months. Wake up, PEI. We need more mental health professionals, we need more psychiatric treatment centres and we need increased awareness so critical government programs don't shut out people with legitimate disabilities. I have taken my concerns to our premier on twitter and as of yet haven't received a response. I hope he is not one of the many people who wish the topic of mental illness would just go away because it makes them uncomfortable. Wake up, PEI. Wake up and enter the 21st century because this situation is disgraceful.