Cannot blame conservatives solely for issues around mental health care

Of course, there were flagrant abuses in institutions back in the day

Cannot blame conservatives solely for issues around mental health care

Re: “Not the left that brought the closure of Riverview”, (online letters, Citizen)

Nice of the letter-writer to focus on Riverview, however the larger problem encompasses the United States as well as Canada and both sides of the political spectrum as regards to closures of mental institutions. I’m pretty sure the NDP was in power for a good chunk of those past referenced 25 years. From 1991-2001 to be precise.

I would also take issue with the concept that the BC Liberals are “socially conservative”. They may be “conservative” in comparison to the NDP, but that still doesn’t mean they’re fully “conservative” and I’m sure many BC Liberals would take issue with that labelling.

Now, I’m not disputing that the specific example of Riverview was at least mostly motivated by saving money, but that’s not the point and does not disprove the larger issue I was addressing — also I do recall mentioning previously that cost-cutting was a factor in closures at some point. The source of government support for the concept of deinstitutionalization can be traced as early as Democrat U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the United States, who was very progressive. Also involved in deinstitutionalization was Democrat U.S. President John F. Kennedy, for progressive and very personal reasons. It wasn’t about saving money for them, but because of the idea that mass institutionalization was inhumane, which in those days it very often was. People wishing to “save money” hopped on the existing bandwagon because it was expedient and they would get the support of those who favor deinstitutionalization for other reasons. Of course, there were flagrant abuses in institutions back in the day, but the response seems to have resulted in throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

The point is, you cannot, and should not, lay ALL of the blame on “conservatives” for the larger issue. I do not support “cost cutting” in a manner that leaves vulnerable people unable to get the help they need, and I also don’t support going back to when anyone with mental health issues got tossed in the asylum with little or no oversight. There should be a happy medium in there, somewhere. Taxes are fine as long as they’re not too high; and cheaper isn’t always better. So no, “people like me” are not part of the problem. I would caution the letter-writer and others that if they try to read another person’s mind, they’re going to have a bad time.

April J. Gibson



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