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N.B. father calls on government to do better job providing mental health care
SAINT GEORGE, N.B. -- They might be in the same province, but there are almost 500 kilometres between Darrell Tidd of Bonny River, N.B., and his 26-year-old son Devan.
"I don't get to see him," said Darrell Tidd. "I've seen him in the fall, it's the last time, and once the weather conditions get better I'll be making another trip up. I talk to him on the phone two or three times a week."
That's because Devan has been at a psychiatric facility in northern New Brunswick since 2013.
Tidd says his son has Asperger's and anger issues and it's been a lifelong struggle to get him the help he needs -- a journey that has sent him to four different group homes.
"When an incident happens, the only option that this province has is to call the RCMP or police," said Darrell Tidd. "He's arrested, put in jail, goes to mental health court and then ends up back in Restigouche."
Tidd is calling for residential facilities, with a staff trained to handle clients with exceptional needs, in each of New Brunswick's major cities.
He's also critical of the way government departments communicate with each other about cases that they might have in common.
Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard, however, feels the province is making progress.
"Over the last little while, these last 12 to 24 months, I've seen changes happening within the departments, the Departments of Health and the Department of Social Development, where there's been a real focus on aligning our perspectives and aligning our case work," said Shephard.
But Tidd isn't buying it.
"I feel we're going backwards, we're not going forwards, and with all the focus on mental health in Canada, and across the world, the province should step up," he said.
Devan and Aaron Smith, the son of Reid Smith, are the lead plaintiffs in a proposed $500-million class-action lawsuit levelled against the province and the Vitalite Health Network on behalf of the residents of the Restigouche Hospital Centre.