Mental health patient seeks help after being left without care
Published Wednesday, August 22, 2012 7:05PM ADT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 22, 2012 7:10PM ADT
Carolyn Connors has been sitting in a chair on her front lawn in Spryfield, N.S. for two days and one night. She hasn’t moved from the spot – not to eat or even to use the bathroom – and her neighbours say she has fallen through the cracks.
Connors has a mental illness and now she says she is unable to walk. Her neighbours say she can’t take care of herself and their efforts to get her help have fallen on deaf ears.
Now, Connors is facing the threat of eviction because she can’t pay her rent.
“I spent the whole night out here last night by myself,” she says.
Neighbours say there is feces and urine on the floor of her apartment, and police have been to her home several times over the past five days.
While both Connors and her neighbours agree she is unable to care for herself, the police say they can only force a person to get help under specific circumstances.
“If the person provides us with sufficient ground that they’re either a danger to themselves or to others, of they’re about to commit an indictable offence, then we can arrest them under the act with the purpose of having them assessed,” says Const. Brian Palmeter.
Connors says she has been in and out of the Nova Scotia Hospital in the past week and her neighbours have been trying to help her, but with no luck.
“There’s got to be some sort of a system out there,” says neighbour Ed Dydodge. “Every door I’m knocking on, they’re all closed.”
The Department of Community Services says the issue doesn’t fall under its jurisdiction, while the Department of Health and Wellness says Connors has been seen by a healthcare professional and is able to make her own decisions.
“If the individual does not want to access help, they have the right to self-determination,” says Gail Gardiner of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
“They have to find some way in the system to make her take help, even if they have to force it upon her, because she just can’t keep living this way,” says Dydodge.
But Connors says she does want help.
“John tried to put me back in Dartmouth and the Nova Scotia Hospital and they refused to take me,” she says.
CTV News alerted NDP MLA Michele Raymond to the situation and she paid Connors a visit.
“I’m going to be phoning the Department of Health to make sure that they have been in touch with her, or…that the police have been in touch,” says Raymond.
Connors’ neighbours are hoping she gets the help she needs before she hurts herself or becomes homeless, and Connors believes she has the answer to a healthy future.
“I would like to be shipped by ambulance to a Truro psychiatric ward to get help and then settle in Truro where I was born.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell
A neighbour comforts Carolyn Connors as she sits outside her apartment building.