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A new year has started and with a new year, we make resolutions to change, to improve. We set goals for ourselves. This quote from Lao Tzu has inspired me this January: “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

What will the new year bring?

In 2009, shortly after my son was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, I cut an insert out of the Toronto Star newspaper (Saturday, May 2, 2009) that dealt with mental health. Published among the articles was a draft framework for a national mental health strategy. The Mental Health Commission of Canada had set out eight goals:

Make hope of recovery available to all.
Promote mental health and well-being, prevent mental health problems and illnesses.
Ensure mental health system is culturally safe and responds to the diverse needs of Canadians.
Recognize the importance of families in promoting recovery.
Ensure people of all ages have access to appropriate programs, services and supports.
Base actions on appropriate evidence.
Eliminate discrimination and stigma.
Develop broad-based social movement to keep mental health issues out of the shadows – forever.

I know from personal experience that some of those goals have been met. My son received access to the services that helped him become independent. Not recovered, but able to cope. And I became part of the recovery-support team and received counselling. So we are getting there. Those idealistic goals were written six and a half years ago.

A new year brings hope. Hope for more action to help those living with a mental illness.

We won’t need to worry about the futures of our sons and daughters and partners and friends. We won’t let the past depress us. We can live in the present. We can find our own personal versions of peace and have reason to hope that mental health initiatives will continue to improve. And hope that all of those lofty goals set out by the Mental Health Commission of Canada will be achieved.

As author Stephen King once wrote: “Hope is a good thing – maybe the best thing and no good thing ever dies.”

About Bonita O'Neill

Bonnie O’Neill is a 67-year-old retired elementary school teacher from Ontario. At the age of 60, she began a seven-year journey – caring for her 26-year-old son who had just been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. This blog documents that journey. She loves to knit and finds that living with someone with schizophrenia is a lot like knitting. Sometimes your work is wonderful, sometimes it unravels, sometimes it gets tangled and sometimes you just want to chuck it.

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