When the Mental Health System Fails…

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20% of all Canadians personally experience some sort of mental health concern, regardless of age education or income.  Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or mood disorders are real health issues; often those suffering will not seek treatment due to stigma and discrimination.  Among homeless populations, rates of mental health symptoms are alarmingly high with the two prime concerns being depression and anxiety [source].  Many people with mental health issues are initially misdiagnosed, and treatment plans must be developed in a cooperative, evolving manner.  One of the pillars that allow for effective treatment and follow-up is simply having a secure and stable home.

Real and Anne Marie.bmp

Homeless people are often unable to comply with treatment plans:  their lives are transient; they may lack funds for transportation to appointments or for prescriptions; they may have experienced previous discrimination from mainstream healthcare; they may be intimidated by the power imbalances of the system; they might simply be scared and alone.

Toronto Star reporter Liam Casey, has chosen to go beyond assumptions and delve into the experience of an homeless man whom the average person may have ignored.  In the following articles, he meets, interviews, and discovers the humanity of Street Health client Real Leclair.


Real is a client of Street Health nurse Anne Marie Batten, and has moved from isolation and ill-fitting treatment toward increased stability and social inclusion with the long-overdue compassion and support he has always deserved.

Just as Liam Casey’s articles imply, when a homeless person with mental health issues falls through cracks in the system, there are no excuses.