Thirty-seven-year-old Brian Rose recalls his time spent at Whitby’s Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences.
“When I was a patient here, I used to sit on the shore and just look at the water. I love this place,” he said.
Rose was transferred to the centre three years after being found Not Criminally Responsible for the death of his grandmother.
“I wasn’t in the right state of mind,” said Rose. “I could not get help. I was so sick. I was so delusional and schizophrenia is such a complex illness.”
It is estimated that one per cent of the population has schizophrenia, a chronic brain disorder.
“By the time I was in my late twenties, I had full on psychosis with delusional thoughts and I had audio and visual hallucinations,” said Rose.
“I wandered around without help for a very long time.”
Rose said he realized what he had done when he was in jail and had come out of psychosis.
“It was about two months after and it was the hardest thing I ever had to live though, knowing that I took the life of my grandmother,” he said.
But Rose finally received the help he desperately needed at Ontario Shores.
“We have six units devoted to the forensic program,” said Karen De Freitas, Ontario Shores’ forensic program medical director.
“Two of [the units] deal with the assessment of patients for the court and the other four deal with rehabilitation of patients who have been found Not Criminally Responsible or unfit to stand trial.”
Rose was an inpatient for many years and worked with a team to create a wellness recovery action plan which includes medication and cognitive behavioural therapy. However, it’s not the staff at Ontario Shores that determines when a patient is ready to reintegrate into the community, it’s the Ontario Review Board after hearing from health care professionals.
“Risk management is a skill and it’s something that we are trained to do,” said De Freitas.
Slowly Rose reintegrated into the community starting with day passes and now lives as an outpatient and was recently named one of five faces of mental illness by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health.
“It’s important for me to raise awareness for people that are suffering in silence,” said Rose.
“I feel it’s a good way to honour my grandmother’s memory. She was a very important person to me, and to advocate it gives a voice to the voiceless.”
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