I just posted to Twitter an article from The National Post that raised once again doubts about how sophisticated Canadians are in understanding and treating so-called “serious mental health conditions.” The article focuses on the oddity of University of Ottawa social work Professor Neree St-Amand’s views being at odds with the mainstream. Professor St-Amand believes in “empowerment” and alternative therapies, which the article cluck clucks about as being at odds with the mainstream. Canadians hate being at odds with the mainstream. The article portrays Professor Armand’s views as if they are stuck in the quaint time warp of the swinging sixties where “discredited” types like R.D. Laing held forth. There is no mention that St-Amand’s views aren’t even considered that radical these days for people who believe in mental health empowerment. Isn’t there any other live academic in Canada with these views? Singling out St-Amand makes it look like there is not.
Unfortunately, I could only “like” this article on Facebook and not post my own rebuttal to it. I tried posting a comment. The comments section wasn’t sophisticated enough to let me know if my word count exceeded its maximum. Well, I don’t like this article. I think it’s totally out-of-date and has an agenda. You be the judge.
Canadians (and I’m one) are infinitely less sophisticated than their closest neighbor, the Americans, certainly if this article and the comments to the article are any indication. I say this because Canada lacks an effective opposition in so many areas. There is simply not a critical enough mass of people in that geographically huge country to muster much effective opposition to a wide array of social, economic or political initiatives. Say what Canadians do say repeatedly about the ills of the United States, but when it comes to voices of dissent, well, the voices are few and far between in the country to the north. You need a critical mass of people and a political and economic climate that is fertile to innovation. Canada is historically very slow in this regard. This is not a good thing when it comes to innovative mental health treatment.
People who don’t know their history may find it astonishing that what is now Ontario in the early 1800s was virtually ruled by an informal “Family Compact” made up of a closed oligarchy of landowners, administrators, churchmen and businessmen who virtually monopolized public office and controlled the economy. Canada has been suffering the effects of this and other British North American elitism in one form or another ever since. Canadians by and large are more trusting of authority than in other countries. They end up with mainstream policies that they accept unquestioningly, but that often are not in their best interests if they thought about it long enough, which they don’t. The Family Compact mentality lives on in so many ways.
As a footnote to today’s post, I wrote an earlier critique of Susan Inman’s book that I also posted on Amazon.
Please feel free to send your own (short) comments on the article to the newspaper. Let’s raise the collective IQ on display. Thanks!