Family Forum: Mental illness and co-occurring alcohol and/or drug problems
CAMH Supports Families on the Journey
Ottawa - November 1, 2005 - On November 8, 2005, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) will host the first in a series of Family Forums to discuss co-occurring substance and mental health problems (sometimes referred to as Concurrent Disorders), with the first forum to take place in Ottawa at the RA Centre, Courtside B Room, 2451 Riverside Drive from 7:00-9:00 p.m*. Experts and a family member with a first-hand account of the challenges faced when a loved one confronts a co-occurring disorder will be on hand to discuss their experiences.
Mental illness and addiction - although they affect over a quarter of Canadians - are issues that many families are afraid to discuss. And when a loved-one is confronting a mental health as well as a substance use problem (co-occurring disorder), it can be very difficult for family members to find help and support.
"Co-occurring disorders are often related and affect each other and must be treated as such, not separately," said Wayne Skinner, Deputy Clinical Director, Addictions Program, CAMH. "The Family Forums are a way for people to get the correct information on the treatment options available."
Catherine Helson of North Bay has first-hand knowledge of the challenges one faces when a loved-one is living with a co-occurring disorder. Catherine's sister suffers from borderline personality disorder and has substance use problems with both prescription and non-prescription drugs. When her sister became distant and difficult to deal with, relationships with family members began to suffer.
"A lot of the difficulty around our situation was that my sister was misdiagnosed and was not receiving effective treatment," she said. "This was a stressful time for my family because we did not know how to help her manage her illness."
The toll that the experience took on Helson's family has been devastating.
"Perhaps if a resource like this were available to my family, my relationship with my sister would be better now. I think the Family Forums are beneficial because families can network with heath care professionals and other families experiencing the same challenges," she said.
As with many other illnesses, co-occurring disorders can be treated more effectively if caught early. The Family Forum is also a chance for people to get information about resources available in order to take steps to help those they care for.
"Early detection of these disorders can be beneficial in learning to successfully manage an illness," said Dr. Caroline O'Grady, Advanced Practice Nurse, CAMH. "Forums like this can be the first step families can take to get the help they need."
CAMH has worked in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Parent's Lifelines of Eastern Ontario (PLEO), Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services,
the Royal Ottawa Hospital Health Care Group and The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario, Ottawa Region to bring available resources to families in need of help.
* Media please note - Spokespeople will be available for comment from 4:00-5:00 p.m. prior to the start of the Family Forum.
For more information or to schedule an interview with a spokesperson, please contact:
Michael Torres, Media Relations Coordinator, CAMH at (416) 595-6015.