P.E.I. woman says hospital should've admitted her during mental health crisis

·3 min read
Christine MacFadyen says she has found a new counsellor that the province is funding and is taking part in some other programs which help her regulate her emotions.  (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)
Christine MacFadyen says she has found a new counsellor that the province is funding and is taking part in some other programs which help her regulate her emotions. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)

Christine MacFadyen says she's disappointed in P.E.I's mental health-care system and although she still struggles with her mental health some days, she hopes by speaking out, it'll lead to improvements in the care people are getting.

MacFadyen has PTSD, depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder and mood swings. She has also been suicidal at times.

She says she's lucky she has good support from family but she wishes there was more help from health professionals.

"The services should be readily available for you and it's not, you have to fight and fight and fight. It gets really discouraging and hard," she said.

MacFadyen says she hopes speaking out will help others.
MacFadyen says she hopes speaking out will help others. (Laura Meader/CBC)

She said it's already exhausting dealing with mental illness so when people reach out for help it should get easier.

"It's just as important as your physical health," she said.

MacFadyen said she's been a patient in Unit 9 — the psychiatric unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital — several times. And while it's set up as a place to keep people safe, she wishes more treatment and counselling were available there to help patients deal with their struggles.

"It should be a treatment facility, a treatment unit," MacFadyen said.

Turned away

MacFadyen was in Unit 9 in December, but after she was discharged she felt like she needed to be re-admitted again in January.

"I was suicidal. I had a plan I was going to act on it," said MacFadyen.

She stayed in the emergency department for three days waiting for a bed on Unit 9 to become available and while there saw several psychiatrists.

She said after a few days one psychiatrist decided she didn't need to go to Unit 9.

"I begged him to let me stay," she said. "At that point I was in crisis and I needed to be in the hospital."

MacFadyen says she would like to see improvements to in-patient and out-patient mental health services.
MacFadyen says she would like to see improvements to in-patient and out-patient mental health services. (Laura Meader/CBC)

She said both she and her mother felt the hospital was the safest place for her to be.

When she was refused a bed in Unit 9, MacFadyen said she resisted leaving the hospital and police were called to forcibly remove her.

"They escorted me out of the hospital. They picked me up by my legs and my arms," she said.

"The way I was treated by the hospital staff and police officers was inhumane."

MacFadyen said since she was suicidal, the hospital was where she needed to be.

"I just wanted help," she said.

She did later file a complaint about her treatment by the hospital, filling out a form online and emailing the head of the hospital, but hasn't received a reply.

Call to do better

MacFadyen said she's tired of hearing government talk about mental health and that it's time for action.

She would like to see programming and therapy for those who are admitted for psychiatric care, anything from walks outside to group therapy sessions would help, she said.

MacFadyen says regular walks near the water help her to cope.
MacFadyen says regular walks near the water help her to cope. (Laura Meader/CBC)

She also says a day program for those recently discharged would be beneficial.

"More money needs to go into mental health and addictions. It needs to be top priority," she said.

Health PEI response

Health officials cannot comment on individual cases but an email statement from Health PEI explained the admission process.

"The decision to admit a patient to hospital is based on the individual's specific circumstances," the statement said.

The email also said, "A complete risk assessment is completed that balances the patient's safety risk and their strengths."

It said patient safety is of utmost importance and that "if a patient reports suicidal thoughts, this is taken very seriously."

The statement said if hospitalization is necessary an individual would be hospitalized.

Charlottetown police confirmed they were called to the hospital in relation to a person not wanting to leave, but could not comment beyond that.

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