Serious Mental Illness: Panel on Current Issues

On Sunday, October 6, 2019, BC Schizophrenia Society hosted a series of short presentations on current issues related to inpatient care for people with serious mental illness.

The psychiatric inpatient experience can be very difficult both for patients and their families. These panel presentations aim to explore inpatient care from a variety of perspectives.

Is there a Shortage of Psychiatric Beds?

Earlier this year, due to numerous complaints about accessing acute psychiatric beds, BCSS and the BC Psychiatric Association constructed a questionnaire seeking the experiences of family members and people affected by serious mental illness. The questionnaire generated over 100 responses from families and patients. This questionnaire led to the development of a report examining these experiences within a wider discussion of relevant issues and offered recommendations for improving the situation.

  • Alan Bates, MD, PhD (Provincial Practice Leader for Psychiatry at BC Cancer and President, BC Psychiatric Association)

Alan Bates, MD, PhD, FRCPC, finished a PhD focused on neuroimaging at the University of Nottingham before completing his MD and Psychiatry residency at the University of British Columbia. He then completed a fellowship in Psychosomatic Medicine and Psycho-oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre. Dr. Bates has published peer-reviewed articles on topics ranging from brain imaging to palliative care and has a special interest in physical fitness and teamwork as interventions for psychiatric illness. He received the 2018 Canadian Psychiatric Association Early Career Achievement in Psychiatry Award and his volunteer work has been recognized through a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and participation in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay. He is the Provincial Practice Leader for Psychiatry at BC Cancer and President of the BC Psychiatric Association.

Potential Legal Barriers to Treatment

Dr. John Gray will educate the audience on the unusual legal developments that now threaten patients’ access to the involuntary treatment that some patients need. This includes describing the challenge to the BC Mental Health Act made under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the most recent Ombudsperson’s Report that recommends more legal input to help patients get discharged against medical advice, and the UN treaty that bans all involuntary admissions and treatment, and bans the use of “not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder.” 

  • Dr. John E. Gray, PhD (Co-Chair, BCSS Public Policy Committee and Lead Author of Canadian Mental Health Law and Policy)

Dr. John E. Gray is a BC Schizophrenia Society board member and Past President of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada. He is a psychologist by training and has worked as a clinician, psychiatric hospital executive director (Saskatchewan) and policy advisor. In BC he was Director of Rehabilitation and Services for the Elderly in the Ministry of Health. He is the lead author of Canadian Mental Health Law and Policy (LexisNexis Canada, 2008).

The Inpatient Experience: A Parent’s Perspective

A presentation on Nancy’s experiences with her son during his hospitalization, including suggestions for how to make inpatient care better.

  • Nancy Ford (Retired Executive Director of Pathways Serious Mental Illness Society [previously North Shore Schizophrenia Society])

Nancy Ford, retired Executive Director for Pathways Serious Mental Illness Society (previously North Shore Schizophrenia Society), is a family advocate and mother of a son diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. She and her son have experienced first hand the support and challenges families and patients encounter while in hospital.

How to Reduce the Need for Inpatient Care

A presentation describing a list of recommendations and changes for the mental health system that could lead to fewer people requiring inpatient care.

  • Susan Inman (BCSS Board Director and author of After Her Brain Broke: Helping My Daughter Recover Her Sanity)

Susan Inman is a BCSS Board Director and mother of a daughter who has been living with schizophrenia for 19 years. Susan’s memoir, After Her Brain Broke: Helping My Daughter Recover Her Sanity, has been recommended by NAMI, EUFAMI and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.She writes about mental illness policies; archives of some of her articles can be found on The Huffington Post and The Tyee. Susan is a retired English and drama teacher.

A Map of the Tertiary Mental Health System in B.C.

A presentation describing BC’s tertiary (longer term) residential options for people needing more comprehensive care.

  • Dr. Randall White (President, Western Canada Branch of the American Psychiatric Association and Member, BCSS Medical Advisory Committee)

Dr. Randall F. White is medical director of Vancouver Community Mental Health Services for Vancouver Coastal Health and clinical director of the British Columbia Psychosis Program at UBC Hospital. He has practiced psychiatry in Canada and the United States, and is currently the president of the Western Canada Branch of the American Psychiatric Association. His clinical and research interest is understanding severe psychotic disorders, and as a clinical professor of psychiatry, he is involved in many educational activities at UBC. He is co-chair of the annual Pacific Psychopharmacology Conference, and has educated the general public about mental illness at many events and in the media. He serves on the Medical Advisory Committee of the BC Schizophrenia Society.

Full Recording of Panel Presentations

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