Hey, you might want to check out http://www.austinmardon.org/. It’s Austin ’s website. Austin Mardon just won the Order of Canada about a week and a half ago. He won it for his work with the homeless mentally ill. His list of achievements are very long and I encourage you to give his site a boo.
We talked for about half an hour today over the phone. I’ll relate a bit about his point of view and can hopefully expand in the future.
“There are approximately 700 homeless schizophrenics in Calgary . That’s specifically homeless schizophrenics rather than mentally ill people in general. There are other diseases like manic depression and so on.” He said.
He explained that work in New York City had shown that a program of getting medication to the homeless mentally ill, in the form of injections every other week, had resulted in a huge success rate.
“With Risperdal Consta, you would only need a nurse to give an injection once every two weeks, and a general practitioner to initially diagnose the homeless schizophrenic,” he said.
“This is not a homeless issue,” he emphasized, “It’s a medical issue.”
He added that the program required the permission of the person undergoing the program.
“What they did,” he said, “was they provided the person’s welfare check with a very good meal along with the injection.”
”It is much easier to manage an injection once every two weeks logistically and financially than to give a pill every day,” he explained,
“Government and the public keep talking about
solving the homeless problem. Ironically Risperdal Consta could solve the
problem of schizophrenic homelessness. Without Risperdal Consta the government
could spend many millions dollars treating homeless schizophrenics making any
impact whatsoever,” he said.
Austin also pointed out that those who suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease receive treatment and help but those who are homeless and mentally ill do not.
“There is such a stigma against mental illness,” he said.
We talked for a bit about different medications and both of us agree on the benefits of Risperdal. He was surprised to learn there is a generic for the drug in pill form that is very cheap. However, he argued that just giving the homeless mentally ill a bottle of pills to try and hang on to and self-regulate their medications is foolish to say the least. “There is no way that a homeless mentally ill person could do that,” he said. He argues that the injection once every two weeks is a much better way to go.
“There needs to be established a social connection with the broader community, you know, in shelters with the medical community. You don’t need that much … you need to be creative.
“One last thing … with generations past if someone became psychotic and was homeless they attempted to house them, usually in squalid conditions, in rural houses or warehouses, but we don’t even do that today. And the irony is that we have medical treatment.
“For example, John Nash who won the Nobel Prize in 1992 was actually homeless at several points in his life. Some of the people who are homeless, if given medical treatment rather than being ignored, might actually get into the process of recovery.
“What I’ve seen is the incredible results of people who have cooperated with their treatment I believe there is hope. It involves the medical community.”