Distress Centers, Demi Lovato & Doug Ford

DISTRESS CENTERS, DEMI LOVATO & DOUG FORD

Tonight Rich and I were planning to attend the Jason Mraz and Demi Lovato outdoor concert in Toronto.  Neither of us are necessarily big fans of their music but we were planning to go because it was a benefit concert to raise awareness and funds in support of Kids Help Phone.  Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24 hour, bilingual and confidential phone counselling, web counselling and referral service for both children and youth.  No one can argue that this outreach program (which was introduced almost 30 years ago) for our kids is needed now more than ever before and relies on donations both publicly and privately to keep it running.  Whether a child is suffering with mental health concerns, addiction or abuse, volunteer counsellors are there to listen and without judgment.

When the news broke the other day that Demi Lovato had been rushed to the hospital due to an apparent drug overdose it broke my heart.  As most of you probably know by now, Demi has battled with both mental and physical illness for much of her life.  She has been very vocal about her struggles and even though she had the best of the best resources at her fingertips, hitting rock bottom had to happen first in order for her to eventually reach out for help some six years ago.  Since then she ‘had’ gotten sober and partnered with the Founder & CEO of CAST Centers which “promotes well-being through a wide variety of proven methods, from traditional talk therapies to innovative and experimental treatments to more spiritual or mindful approaches”.

In 2015 she also became the spokeswoman for the “Be Vocal: Speak Up For Mental Health” campaign which has since encouraged and inspired people from all over the world to get help, even going so far as to offer her fans therapy and support for mental health concerns during each stop of her most recent concert tour (including Toronto).  Although I have never personally struggled with substance abuse myself (ok I’m lying, I have been addicted to tobacco for over 30 years, and when I actually write it down it makes me want to throw up), I know that addiction is a key element in someone’s mood, thinking and behaviour which will impair a person’s judgment and ability to function just as much as any other mental disorder.  And much like most other debilitating mental illnesses (depression, anxiety, eating disorders, psychosis etc.) they will most likely not go away on their own without proper treatment and if ignored will also likely get worse and very likely lead to a premature death.

This week our Health Minister announced that they will be cutting $330 million dollars of funding per year which was to be allocated to Mental Health services in Ontario only causing further turmoil and a monumental step in the wrong direction for everyone.  What this means for anyone battling with a mental illness or their loved ones (let’s face the scary truth, we all know of someone) is longer wait times to see a qualified Mental Health professional, less supports, less funded programs and less hospital beds and the real truth, even more children and adults in chaos.

For the average person living with a mental illness (myself included) who may not be privileged like Demi Lovato to be able to afford private long term treatment and instead rely heavily on government funding to enable them to get much needed and valuable support this too is heartbreaking.  I have seen firsthand the devastation from the lack of funding and cutbacks to doctors and programming (which I have blogged about in the past).  This is why it is more important than ever to remember when you are in need of immediate help that it may be just a phone call away, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

Helplines like Kids Help Phone or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can and do save lives (and yes I have used their services).  They provide fast and immediate feedback to an already vulnerable, scared individual which may help to reduce their stress and fear in that pivotal moment.  I hope (along with the rest of the world) that Demi Lovato can make a full recovery and that she will continue to be that bright, shining voice for Mental Wellness and that when she is good and ready that Toronto will be her first stop on that road to recovery to finish what she started. (And you don’t want to know what I hope for Doug Ford)

*PLEASE PASS THESE NUMBERS ON TO YOUR CHILDREN AND LOVED ONES

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

National Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (Canada)

Author: Kim Fluxgold

Wife, mom of 3 beautiful children, dog lover, creative sole and children's book Author. Sharing my journey with depression and anxiety through blogging in hopes of educating and ending the stigma.

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