Newspapers need to stop taking the easy way out


This is my first time in my 40 years I have been compelled to write a newspaper. I have been dealing with my mental health issues and for the last three years have received help and support from an organization which has supported and helped many other in our community.

I have been reading both the Times and News for a few years watching for recognition of this organizations contributions to the community of Abbotsford.

From personal experience I know this organization is client centered, providing not just services but a fellowship and belonging which next to shelter and basic needs is necessary for Self-esteem and Self-worth.

To a certain degree this not receiving recognition is a fault of the organizations priorities. Employing a PR person to arrange for newspaper stories and recognition of their numerous contributions to the community and the people they serve is simply not a priority for this organization as it has better uses for its money and time.

Apparently my view of what newspapers are supposed to be about is skewed. I have always assumed that publishers, editors and reporters where aware of and in touch with what was going on in their communities and what organizations were contributing to the welfare of citizens within their communities. I thought local newspapers would inform the community at large about these organizations services and contributions to the health of the community.

Instead it seems that our local papers simply rely on and write about what an organizations PR shill chooses to submit to them.

Leaving an organization which provides amazing long term successful mental health recovery services and programs in our community not getting the recognition they deserve from our local media.

I agree with James W Breckenridge’s article about the fact that if you add up all the claims of people housed by organizations in Abbotsford we should have a negative number of homeless on our streets.

A number of organizations are pumping out turnstile numbers to access funds and grants, taking funds away from organizations that actually provide people with the fellowship, belonging and long term support that is necessary for recovery. Because if an organization is not providing the services to be successful long term they have a turnstile endlessly counting the same services and people over and over.

I count today; tomorrow when you come back I will count that as 2: when next day comes that will be 3; and so on and son on.

Same with housing, Wondering why they are able to help so many, yet the numbers on the street haven’t changed. What are the successes based on? Even if an individual is able to find housing for a month, but has no other fellowship or sense of belonging to anything else besides the street they will simply find there way back where? To the street, Why? We fed them gave them shelter all the necessities right. Why did this person throw all that away? I will explain this and its simple you can give a person all that you feel they need but if there fellowship and belonging has not changed they will return to the one they had.

A successful count should be only be long term only has meaning in the long term. Having a person housed for 12 months with a newly developed sense of fellowship and belonging in the community should be a bare minimum consideration for being able to say they have a success.

There needs to be some kind of accountability when these organizations say they have helped xyz number of persons in need.

I am not saying that these organizations are not in need, they very much are. I would just like them to be honest and upfront – if you simply fed or shelter someone then say we successfully served xyz with a meal and shelter for xyz number of days. But do not say that this is recovery or rehabilitation because it is simply not true.

I believe, based on my personal experience, that any organization that does not develop a peer system or fellowship with the persons they serve will fail. Whether it is addictions, mental health, or homelessness they will fail.

Somewhere some basic psychology has been lost. One of the first things you encounter in psychology, that has been around forever is Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs to self actualization.

Most successful organizations in the recovery field have a peer support system; examples of this are AA sponsors, MH Peer Support Workers, Mentors. For some reason the most inexpensive and successful treatment of persons in need has been lost, replaced by politicized, expense formulated costly services that have complicated matters and left out the basic need for fellowship.

Fellowship provides belonging, when we are validated and accepted only then do people have a sense of self-esteem or worth. Organizations need to heed this approach to be successful.

Newspapers need to stop taking the easy way out, start paying attention to what is happening in the community and informing the public what the actual situation is. Only in this manner can the public make informed judgments and decisions about these pressing social problems.

Ray Patrick

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