Last month Canada mourned the loss of Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. More profound was the resulting loss of innocence that such a terrible act could happen on Canadian soil. For most people the violent behaviour of the two gunmen was terrorism. Others pointed to mental health and addiction issues as contributing factors. The perfect storm of mental illness, addiction and terrorism resulted in the first violent deaths of enlisted personnel on Canadian soil since 1885. The government has responded by increasing security and drafting stronger legislation to track and follow suspected terrorists.
This leaves most of us asking what can we do? As a community, reaching out and supporting individuals that are at risk because of mental health and addiction issues is critical. Understand clearly that mental illness or addiction does not mean violence. According to the American Psychiatric society some of the early warning signs of mental health difficulties can include:
1. Loss of interest in daily activities and social interaction.
2. Decrease in fuctioning at school or work.
3. Difficulties with concentration, memory, or logical thought and speech that are hard to explain.
4. Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch.
5. A vague feeling of being disconnected from oneself or one’s surroundings.
6. Unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal powers to understand meanings or influence events.
7. Fear or suspiciousness of others or a strong nervous feeling.
8. Uncharacteristic or peculiar behavior.
9. Dramatic sleep and appetite changes or deterioration in personal hygiene.
10. Rapid or dramatic shifts in feelings or “mood swings.”
If you or someone you love is experiencing one or more of these warning signs, please seek help. Individuals can access support across the country at their doctor’s offices, mental health clinics, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and The Canadian Mental Health Association. If you would like personal counselling, psychotherapy or help with a mental health concern, contact Annette Poechman. Listening, Guiding, Caring.