My friend, Simon, has a chronic knee problem due to a childhood injury. Three years ago, the knee gave out on him totally and made it impossible for him to go about his daily life. He lost his job and the pain is now so severe that it sometimes keeps him in bed.
He has tried to go for physio; he has tried to look for work; he has tried to go back to school to get a new skill set. But everywhere he goes, he’s directed to the third, fourth or fifth floor of a building with no elevator. The help he needs is almost always just out of reach.
True story? Of course not! But this story could be true if Simon had an untreated mental illness or addiction. Daily, the young people I know are being asked to jump hurdles to get the very help they need to get over those hurdles in the first place.
We have started to recognize accessibility for people struggling with a physical injury (I’m only talking about injuries here). But what about those kids whose emotional life is such a challenge that:
- they can’t keep track of the day or the time
- their lack of self-confidence prevents them from walking into an office and talking to the receptionist
- they are paranoid about being outdoors in the daytime
There are more valid reasons than we know
that keep some youth from getting the help they need.
Many of the young people I know have suffered so much childhood trauma, that their lives are full of fear. Fear is exhausting. That exhaustion, alone, is sometimes enough to keep someone from getting to an appointment – even if it’s with a doctor or social worker or housing worker or school counselor or anyone who can help.
asking a young person who struggles with mental illness and/or addiction
to make it to an appointment is like asking someone with a broken leg
to walk up three flights of stairs to the x-ray.
The difference is that we would be outraged at the expectation to walk up the stairs. When it comes to mental health and addiction, the rage and frustration is often directed toward the youth, themselves. It is necessary to be critically conscious of our expectations rather than being immediately critical of our youth.
Let’s be conscious
of the ways in which mental health and addiction prevent people from getting help.
Let’s work toward
an accessibility that includes those struggling with mental health and addiction.
Please consider making a donation to the Windsor Youth Centre https://www.thewindsoryouthcentre.org/