By Ken MacQueen - Friday, April 19, 2013 - 0 Comments
Fresh analysis of an old program shows that a guaranteed annual income kickstarts health
On April 23, Maclean’s hosts “Health Care in Canada: What Makes Us Sick?,” a town hall discussion at Theatre Junction Grand in Calgary. The free event—focusing on the social conditions that impact the health and longevity of Canadians—is held in conjunction with the Canadian Medical Association. It will be broadcast by CPAC. The conversation on the health impact of disparities in income, education, housing and employment continues online at healthcaretransformation.ca.
Last week UNICEF, the United Nations agency, released a report on the status of Canada’s children compared to 28 other industrialized countries. It placed Canada’s kids a mediocre 17th in overall well-being. Among the results are poor rankings in many basic necessities to reach a healthy, productive adulthood. Canada’s in the bottom third in “relative child poverty”; there are too many teens spinning their wheels by not being in school, training or employment; and we’re 27th (ahead of only Latvia and Romania) in health and safety, including vaccination levels and rates of infant and child mortality. In the 10 years since the last UNICEF survey, our children’s view of their life satisfaction dropped seven notches to 24th place. Only ﬁve Eastern European countries fared worse.
At the root of this, and other international reports on Canada’s subpar performance, is poverty and all its ugly, spendthrift offspring: illiteracy, undereducation, unemployment, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, fractured families, incarceration, mental illness, excessive hospitalization and chronic disease. The percentage of Canadians living below the poverty line has stalled in the 11-14 per cent range for more than three decades, despite—and in many cases because of—an array of expensive government programs. Federal and provincial governments plead they are hamstrung by debt and soaring costs for health care and social programs, yet, critics say, they offer little in the way of bold thinking or new approaches.
By Anne Kingston - Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
A look at the new psychiatric guidelines that are pitting doctors against doctors
Every parent of a preteen has been there: on the receiving end of sullen responses, bursts of frustration or anger, even public tantrums that summon the fear that Children’s Aid is on its way. Come late May, with the publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), however, such sustained cranky behaviour could put your child at risk of a diagnosis of “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.” This newly minted condition will afflict children between 6 and 12 who exhibit persistent irritability and “frequent” outbursts, defined as three or more times a week for more than a year. Its original name, “temper dysregulation disorder with dysphoria,” was nixed after it garnered criticism it pathologized “temper tantrums,” a normal childhood occurrence. Others argue that even with the name change the new definition and diagnosis could do just that.
“Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder” isn’t the only new condition under scrutiny in the reference manual owned and produced by the American Psychiatric Association (APA)—and lauded as psychiatry’s bible. Even though the final version of DSM-5 remains under embargo, its message is being decried in some quarters as blasphemous. Its various public drafts, the third published last year, have stoked international outrage—and a flurry of op-ed columns, studies, blogs and petitions. In October 2011, for instance, the Society for Humanistic Psychology drafted an open letter to the DSM task force that morphed into an online petition signed by more than 14,000 mental health professionals and 50 organizations, including the American Counseling Association and the British Psychology Society.
Of fundamental concern is a loosening and broadening of categories to the point that everyone potentially stands on the brink of some mental-disorder diagnosis, or sits on some spectrum—a phenomenon the American psychologist Frank Farley has called “the sickening of society.” One change summoning criticism is DSM-5’s reframing of grief, that inescapable fact of life, by removing the “bereavement exclusion” for people who’ve experienced loss. Previously, anyone despairing the death of a loved one wasn’t considered a candidate for “major depression” unless their despondency persisted for more than two months or was accompanied by severe functional impairment, thoughts of suicide or psychotic symptoms. No longer.
By Elizabeth MacCallum - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
Canada is a leader in pain research. So why are kids suffering?
Pippa is a big girl now, almost 4, so she’s very good on the swing. “Higher! Higher!” she squealed and James McKee, her father, obliged with delight. Then it happened. The nightmare. Pippa sailed through the air like a bird and crash-landed with her right leg underneath her. To avoid hours in the notoriously slow waiting room at the Hospital for Sick Children’s emergency ward in Toronto, McGee and his wife, Amy Nugent, took Pippa to a general hospital nearby. Waiting there more than five hours for an ambulance—because children with serious broken bones in Toronto go to Sick Kids—Pippa would doze off briefly, only to wake screaming. No one was around at the ER desk who could respond to McKee’s pleas for more appropriate medication for his daughter. When the family arrived at Sick Kids, Pippa was immediately made comfortable with the completely necessary pharmacological brew, as she waited until orthopaedic surgeons pinned the fracture in her femur later that day in the operating room. Continue…