The raging mouse infestation on the ward where I was recently hospitalized strikes me as something that wouldn’t be allowed to continue on a non-psychiatric unit, but I’m guessing that stigma stops anyone from paying attention to it happening on a psych ward. This is what I’ve come up with so far to email to the hospital communications department. What I’m still pondering is how to convey my plans for pursuing the issue if they don’t respond with action. I don’t want to sound threatening or ultimatum-ish, but I also want to convey that I have no intention of dropping the issue.
My plan if the issue doesn’t get addressed is to reach out to a local media outlet, the local branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the provincial politician representing my riding, the Minister of Mental Health & Addictions, and the opposition critic for that ministry. Any thoughts on how to hint at that without being obnoxious would be greatly appreciated.
I was recently an inpatient on 2 North at [name of hospital]. The last two nights that I was in hospital, March 29 and 30, 2022, I was unable to sleep, so I spent the night sitting in the ward’s patient dining room.
I was already aware that there was a rodent issue on the unit, as I had previously seen a mouse in the room I shared with two other patients. However, I was not prepared for the extent of the problem that I witnessed during those two nights that I was awake. I couldn’t even count the number of mice, there were so many of them. They were running around the dining room, through the halls, and in and out of other rooms. When I raised the issue with my treatment team, they acknowledged that there was a mouse problem but seemed to take an “it is what it is” view of the matter.
This ongoing unaddressed infestation is completely unacceptable. I can’t help but wonder if this problem exists to the extent that it does because 2 North is a psychiatric unit, and, as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Powers so powerfully put it, no one cares about crazy people.
This issue needs to be addressed, and it needs to be addressed now. Many patients on psychiatric inpatient units like 2N are there involuntarily under the Mental Health Act, and I would like you to consider for just a moment how you would feel about yourself or a loved one being forcibly detained on a rodent-infested ward. My former co-patients may not be able to use their voices to speak up and be heard while they remain in hospital, but I can most certainly use mine. Those of us with mental illnesses deserve better than stigma, and I would encourage you to refer to the materials the Mental Health Commission of Canada has developed in regard to structural stigma (https://mentalhealthcommission.ca/structural-stigma/).
I would like to know exactly what steps [organization name] plans to take in order to remedy this situation and what follow-up will be done to evaluate the effectiveness of that remedy. I sincerely hope that patient voices will be heard as part of such an evaluation. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
I mentioned yesterday that I recognize that sending this kind of email in high dudgeon is not good for me, so this email isn’t going to be sent for a week at the very least. My level of dudgeon has already come down significantly since getting home, and I figure another week or two of reflection should be sufficient to remove any excess dudgeon. Actually, I’m feeling inspired to create a dudgeon-o-meter graphic to help check in with myself; that goes on the to-do list.
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