COAST is There to Provide Support; Health Crisis Has Many Faces

Posted On Tuesday November 17, 2020

Anne is an older woman in her seventies. She struggles with severe depression. She has encountered many challenges finding support because her home is at the border between Toronto and Peel.

Her family decided to contact the 24/7 crisis line on her behalf to get her some help.

At the time of the call, Anne had not been sleeping or eating in weeks and was always worrying. This behaviour escalated in September when the COVID restrictions loosened up. You see, Anne worried about her daughter, who is a school teacher. Her worries increased when her grandchild became ill with the COVID-19 virus shortly after returning to school. Anne's daughter's family lived in quarantine, leaving her isolated and paralyzed as there was nothing she could do to help them. An unbearable level of stress and anxiety consumed her.

Anne told the crisis team all of this information and how much she understood why a friend of hers had taken their own life several years ago. Anne felt that she could relate to how her friend was feeling beforehand.

Anne sought assistance through her family doctor but no medications were prescribed. However, she also reached out to phone support systems that could not provide any genuinely useful help. At the end of each outreach event, she was given direction to attend a hospital emergency department if the symptoms of depression worsened.

They did. In a moment of symptomatic despair, Anne went to the emergency department at the hospital. She spent numerous anxious and uncertain hours there waiting. After getting her blood work done and being cleared medically by the doctor, she was discharged. She asked for additional assistance but left the hospital with no other supports or referrals.

Her health crisis showed no sign of letting up.

When the COAST team followed-up with her concerning the original crisis call her family made, they scheduled to meet with Anne and her daughter at an outdoor public location in Brampton. They spoke in depth about all that had transpired.

The team's Crisis Support Worker completed an assessment during this meeting. They discussed the options and decided that the team would assist Anne. She would voluntarily attend the hospital with COAST to advocate on her behalf. It was not their goal to have her placed on a Form instead to get her referred to resources that would help her cope, have her medications reassessed, and provide her with some strategies to assist her with her depression and anxiety symptoms. 

Anne and her daughter broke into tears during this conversation, explaining that they were so grateful for the extra efforts the COAST members were making. As the family believed they were falling through the system's gaps.   

Anne, escorted by the COAST team, attended the hospital where the emergency department mental health crisis team, nurses, and doctor assessed her. As hoped, they provided her with referrals, medication, sleep aids, and a services package identifying services in her home area. Anne agreed to have the assessment conducted by the Crisis Support Worker shared with her family doctor.

 Anne and her daughter are very grateful to the COAST team and for the time spent with them. This is one of the many very real situations that people are experiencing every day. Through our ability to work together as a community, we can continue to assist those experiencing a health crisis. If you or someone you know needs crisis support, call the 24.7 crisis support Peel program at 905-278-9036. The crisis line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and has access to a language interpretation service with over 160 languages.

*Based on a true story, to protect the privacy of the individual, their real name was not used. 

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