I was asked if I'd like to be part of an interview with Richard Dalton, on Beautiful Minds, a radio program about news, interviews, resources and events related to mental illness on Coop Radio 102.7 FM. I called Richard, and he asked me if I could speak about going off medication. I agreed. So yesterday evening, I went to the radio station on Columbia and Hastings and met him for the first time. I also met Linda Stewart, a retired police officer that teaches at the Justice Institute of British Columbia and Inspector Scott Thompson of the Vancouver Police Department. They were there to talk about police training in mental health and how the police deal with disturbances or crises involving the mentally ill. A third of all calls involve people with mental illness. Basically, if they are called to intervene in a situation, they treat a distressed mentally ill person the same as anyone in crisis. Linda said the officer must actively listen, calm the person down, build a rapport, and assess if the person is in danger of harming themselves or others. Substance abuse is also an issue in certain situations which can also affect behaviour. They mention Car 87 which the Vancouver Police Department has had since the late eighties. Car 87 partners a police officer with a psychiatric nurse, or mental health worker which takes calls, and provides a resource along with a hotline service 20/7 to give advice and background when needed.
Karen Ward is an editor-in-chief of The Ear, an artist, writer and photographer, and collective member of Gallery Gachet. She was interviewed with me about the problems with taking medication like tardive dyskinesia, sedation, and weight gain. We discussed the importance of insight. One needs to recognize the need for medication to be able to function more normally. We discussed the effects of medication on creativity. We talked about the consequences of going off medication. I wanted to talk about how reducing medication can be successful in some cases, if done under the care of a doctor, but we ran out of time.
If you'd like to listen to the 12-minute interview on going off medication, click here. For the entire one hour broadcast, click here and go to Jan. 17, 2011 Program.