Some History About Oppression

I wanted to follow up on my practicum at the Mental Health Center (on the Child and Adolescent Ward). Every time I leave the place I feel insane - that is, I feel unsure that I am okay. It seems that I have become less sensitive to the whole situation. The shock has worn away, or gone under. But some things are still scary, like the amount of medication they prescribe for each child.

Medication is the first word on all of the treatment plans, except there is one boy (Native) who is not on any meds right now. He is not a behavior problem. He is quiet and obeys the rules.

I have also noticed some good things about the place and the staff. One is that there are a lot of people thinking about each child. They seem fairly open to outside ideas and allowed me to speak about my life to the young people during "Express Yourself" group. The young people really perked up and listened and shared about their own lives, which was very positive. The nurse wanted my phone number so I could come and speak again.

Another good thing is that the center is most likely the safest place for a lot of the young people in terms of protection from the abuse and neglect at home. The medication, though there is a lot of it for each child, could be keeping them alive, not committing suicide, until they find some real help later on. I don't know - I don't like seeing them so sluggish and flat looking.

Today there are ten young people. Five are Native.

Being here has helped me to notice how pervasive "mental health" system oppression is. It is everywhere and is constant. I think people of color and poor people are oppressed heavily in this way and then oppress themselves on the basis of mental ability, by doubting their potential for learning and by not reaching for educational goals. In my research I learned that the Mental Hygiene Movement was very strong during the early immigration of foreigners from Europe to Canada and the U.S. One of the standards used to indicate good mental health was language. If you could not speak English well enough you failed the mental examination and were not allowed in.

Brenda Wastasecoot
Brandon, Manitoba, Canada

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00