1683976154 Serious Mental Health Problems The burden that mothers carry

Serious Mental Health Problems | The burden that mothers carry –

You collect insults and wander the streets of Montreal. The other is accused of murdering three members of his family. Two different stories, one background: exhausted mothers struggling to help their child with a serious mental health problem. Social Services Minister Lionel Carmant wants to improve access to healthcare by focusing on home hospitalization.

Posted at 5:00 am.


Tristan Peloquin

Tristan Péloquin investigative team, La Presse

Ariane Lacoursiere

Ariane Lacoursière investigative team, La Presse

“I still have hope that he’ll get out of there”

The luxury car sitting idle on Sainte-Catherine Street draws attention. In the dark, junkies and crack dealers strolling through Émilie Gamelin Park quickly spot the driver: “She’s Olivier’s mother. »

Night after night, Manon Latulippe goes in search of her 31-year-old son Olivier, who fell into crack hell months ago. Exhausted and weary, she quickly scans the small crowds at the intersections of run-down downtown alleyways and walks toward the faces she recognizes.

Serious Mental Health Problems The burden that mothers carry


For weeks, Manon Latulippe spent entire evenings walking the streets of downtown to find her son.

“Sometimes people who have seen Olivier ask me for money to give me information about where he is,” says Ms. Latulippe.

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Manon Latulippe

His son refuses the help offered to him. The police in the area know him well. “On a scale of 1 to 10, his dangerousness is 1,” said a police officer who knows him by his first name. And unfortunately there are people who represent a “10” and are left behind on the streets. »

25 criminal charges, $14,000 fine

Like many other people stuck in the same situation that mixes drugs, homelessness and mental health problems, Olivier has racked up dozens of petty crimes and misdeeds since his visit to the streets, most of them minor. Since 2019, these have earned him no fewer than 25 criminal charges, including multiple counts of non-compliance, and fines totaling $14,000 for violations of municipal regulations.

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Manon Latulippe has repeatedly visited police stations to urge them to intervene.

“It’s called the gradation of sanctions,” explains Ms. Latulippe. Each of the leaders doesn’t face particularly harsh punishments in their own right, but their dizzying streak drives the perpetrators headed straight for jail…or a life on the run in downtown squats to escape.

Ms. Latulippe, in particular, does not want to get involved. The thought of Olivier overdosing again scares her. “He did one at a crackhouse in January. It took five doses of Narcan [de la naloxone servant d’antidote aux effets du fentanyl] to bring him back to life, the lady breathes. It keeps me from sleeping. But I still hope he pulls through. »

For weeks she would spend entire evenings walking the streets of downtown to find her son. She repeated her visits to police stations to beg them to intervene, often to no avail.

They treated me with a certain contempt. Some people told me to my face that I was wasting my time.

Manon Latulippe

Faced with Olivier’s refusal to appear in court in March to face the tide of charges slapping him, his lawyer Me Catherine Lapointe managed to get the court to issue an arrest warrant and order him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation .

The attorney is part of the Justice and Mental Health Support Program (PAJ-SM), a type of alternative court to the Municipal Court with dedicated judges and specialist attorneys, along with social worker and health care teams. Operating in around 30 judicial districts, the program aims to reduce offender recidivism by bringing health care back into the lives of offenders struggling with mental health problems or homelessness. In order to prevent petty crimes from paralyzing the justice system, judges exchange prison sentences for several weeks of therapy in specialized centers. “You need a personal commitment. It’s another philosophy that reconnects people to the healthcare network,” explains Anne Crocker, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Université de Montréal, who evaluated the program in its early years.

Bordeaux or therapy

“When clients face jail time, we have influence. That lets us say: do you prefer to go to Bordeaux or for treatment? “Summarize me, Lapointe.

The day after the evening when we were escorting Ms Latulippe through the downtown streets, Olivier was arrested by SPVM police officers and detained in Rivière-des-Prairies.

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Manon Latulippe

The next afternoon, during his still-impaired appearance before Judge Steeve Larivière, Olivier would not hear about the therapy. “In that state, he can send me shit with me,” explains Me Lapointe. The judge knows he’s disorganized, but he’s kind of taken him under his wing. »

It’s the call of the asphalt. For now, he just wants to go to the Berri subway pushers one more time.

I am Catherine Lapointe, Olivier’s attorney

After a week in custody, Olivier finally accepted the compromise that was offered to him. The judge dropped seven files that would have earned him a seven or eight month prison sentence versus three months of therapy. He’ll have to report halfway through. Should he relapse, he risks imprisonment.

It was his mother who struggled to get him a place in a therapy center. “I called a dozen places to find a center that was willing to take him for three months,” she explains.

At the same time, Olivier is being supported by the Rights in Front clinic, which is negotiating the lifting of certain fines in exchange for concrete promises.

Year after year, the organization helps 150 people who, like Olivier, are struggling with the problem of graduated sanctions. “When people hit rock bottom, they often become aware of the legal reality. If the person continues to live on the streets, there is not much that can be done. But we can help them when they are working on the stability of their home or when they are getting closer to their family,” explains the organization’s director, Bernard St-Jacques.

A justice of small steps

Overall, Anne Crocker says the system works quite well in reducing criminal recidivism, although there are numerous errors. “There is no magic. The protagonists of the program are aware that accidents can occur on the way. It’s a justice that works in small steps,” she states.

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Olivier is joined by the Right Front clinic, which is negotiating the lifting of certain fines in exchange for concrete promises.

Despite everything, there is a sorely lack of support for families, Ms Crocker regrets.

It is very difficult for relatives to deal with the complexity of the legal system. Often they have to denounce the person they love in order to provoke things and come to their aid. It can be perceived as a betrayal and very difficult to live with.

Anne Crocker, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Montreal

“They are revolving doors. You go around in circles, it costs a lot of energy,” summarizes Ms. Latulippe. After several days of trying to get her son off the streets, she is heartbroken by the police, who she says have ignored her pleas to intervene. “They told me I was wasting my time,” Latulippe laments.

Her relentlessness almost broke her, but she was able to pull off a small win against crack.

“There are consumers who would rather plead guilty and go to jail for 30 days than try to get therapy out of it,” Ms Crocker says.

An orphan who loved his parents

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Arthur Galarneau is accused of the murders of his mother, Mylène Gingras, his father, Richard Galarneau, and his grandmother, Francine Gingras-Boucher.

When Nathalie Cossette learned that her friend Mylène Gingras was believed to have been murdered by her own son on February 17, she was shocked. Because although the boy had been diagnosed with a mental illness, his mother was not afraid of him and spent all her time with him.

“She wasn’t afraid of him. In general,” assures Ms. Cossette.

Mylène Gingras was murdered in her apartment on rue Bélanger in the Rosemont neighborhood of Montreal. His 19-year-old son, Arthur Galarneau, now faces three murder charges, as his father Richard Galarneau and grandmother Francine Gingras-Boucher are also among the victims.

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Nathalie Cosette

In the days leading up to the tragedy, Ms Cossette had exchanged several messages with her friend. She agreed to show these conversations to La Presse to show the extent of the love Ms. Gingras had for their son. But also the plight of some relatives of people with severe mental health problems.

Arthur was accompanied by a social worker and a psychiatrist. His condition was fragile. He took drugs. He recently returned to a speed skating class, Ms Cossette says.

“It’s the love of my life”

On March 9, Ms Gingras wrote to her friend, telling her that her son was “in a state of complete psychosis.” He hardly eats anymore: God would dictate this prohibition to him. He no longer plays his video games. He boils water and puts out glasses all over the house.

For three days he has been saying strange things to me. I break down.

Mylène Gingras, in a message to Nathalie Cossette

The mother says she is “overwhelmed”. She hardly goes out to take care of her son. “She went to the gym, that’s all,” says Ms. Cossette.

She describes Arthur’s family as “enveloping” even though the parents lived apart. The young man lived in the same house as his mother and grandmother.

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Francine Gingras Boucher and Mylene Gingras

On March 10, Ms Gingras wrote to her friend to say that she had ordered chicken to eat with her son. “We ate in the living room. He loved it small. It calmed him down a lot. It’s the love of my life. »

They weren’t in conflict […] They had a great relationship. When Arthur was scared, he slept with her.

Nathalie Cosette

On Sunday March 12 Arthur’s father spends the day with his son to give his ex-wife some rest. “I’m emotionally drained. I don’t want to leave him or leave him alone. He worries me a lot […] I suffer just like him,” writes the mother.

During the interview, we learned that Ms Gingras believed her son’s crisis was partly triggered by the fact that she put up a ‘For Sale’ sign outside her house on rue Bélanger. “Mylène wanted to move to Terrebonne or Mascouche. To give Arthur more peace of mind,” says Ms. Cossette.

“It’s also stressing him out a lot,” Ms. Gingras wrote on March 14 […] I didn’t go to the gym tonight because he follows me everywhere. I take a lot of time to talk to him and see the peace it gives him in his eyes. »

Mylène Gingras, Francine Gingras-Boucher and Richard Galarneau were found dead on March 17.

support for families

Social Services Minister Lionel Carmant recognizes that daily life can be very difficult for some family members of people with a mental disorder. For them, there is the Avant de Cracker network, which brings together community organizations across Quebec.

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Gabrielle Brind’Amour, Managing Director of L’Accolade Mental Health

“By our definition, a loved one is both an immediate family member and an extended family member. […] And it could also be friends, co-workers, landlords, neighbors…” explains the manager of L’Accolade Mental Health in Châteauguay, Gabrielle Brind’Amour.

The organization intervenes individually with its clients, but also offers workshops on various mental disorders and challenges commonly reported by families, such as managing emotions or self-esteem. Ms. Brind’Amour points out: Not all nurses have experienced their situation badly. And 90% of people with mental health problems are not violent.

The families of these people want to help their loved ones. It is often most helpful for them to better understand what their loved one is going through. And to be guided in the network.

Julie Belleau, coordinator of the La Boussole organization in Quebec

Specifically, in his interventions, La Boussole “makes the distinction between what is dangerous and what is disturbing” in the behavior of a person living with a mental health problem.

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Nathalie Hachey, social worker at L’Accolade Mental Health

In ten years of practice, Nathalie Hachey, a social worker at L’Accolade Mental Health, has found that her clients often “wish to be involved in their loved one’s treatment plan or follow-up.” “But many feel that they are not being listened to,” she says. “The most important emotions loved ones feel are fear, guilt and helplessness,” adds Ms. Brind’Amour.

Future Considerations on Bill P-38

At both L’Accolade Santé Mentale and La Boussole, we also support people who want to go to court to request a psychiatric evaluation of a loved one who poses an imminent danger to themselves or others, such as the P- 38 law. At L’Accolade, the number of these escorts has doubled since the beginning of the pandemic. A trend seen across Quebec.

Serious Mental Health Problems The burden that mothers carry

Relatives who go to court to make such requests are required to provide identification, which puts them in a difficult situation, Ms Belleau notes. Asked about the matter, Minister Lionel Carmant said he was “open to consideration” about the application of Law P-38. But “it takes a collective reflection to see where we can manage to bring everyone together”. Because the whole thing is complex and particularly touches on questions of individual rights.

To get network service: Before cracking: 1 855 CRAQUER.

Three measures by Minister Carmant

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The Minister responsible for social services, Lionel Carmant

In order to increase access to mental health care, the Minister responsible for social services, Lionel Carmant, will take three actions in particular in the coming months: home hospitalization for people with psychotic disorders and mood swings, specialized rapid intervention and community relay teams and short psychiatric ones intervention units.

Eliminate revolving doors

In an interview with La Presse, Minister Lionel Carmant explains that the aim of these measures, which are aimed at “all mental health clients”, is, among other things, to reduce the famous phenomenon of the “revolving door” in psychiatry, which affects certain patients entails frequent visits to hospitals. The various mental health programs in the health network served 250,000 patients this year. But the emergency department has seen more than 3 million mental health consultations. For Mr. Carmant, this data shows that patients “need follow-up visits after their visit to the emergency room.” Therefore, rapid intervention and referral teams are established in the community, allowing patients discharged from the emergency room after being treated there for an acute episode to receive rapid follow-up care. Mr. Carmant plans to set up these teams “in all emergency departments in Quebec” over the next few months.

care at home

In addition, teams will be created to provide “short-term intensive care at home” to enable psychiatric patients to receive inpatient treatment at home. In Quebec, this measure has been in use for years. “I’ve already seen a patient there who presented with suicidal tendencies and was hospitalized at home,” says Mr. Carmant. In particular, teams of nurses and psychiatrists may visit the same patient two to three times a day for a period of six to nine weeks. “The beauty of being hospitalized at home is that the person stays in their environment and doesn’t feel uprooted for their recovery. In this context, she is more willing to do so. And that allows for the involvement of loved ones, which is not always the case…” says the minister.

Aim for short stays

Finally, short-term psychiatric intervention units will also be set up in six provincial institutions. Mr. Carmant points out that psychiatric hospital stays have the longest length of stay in the health network. “Sometimes it takes more than 40 days,” he says. The short intervention sessions allow for “more intensive and shorter procedures over two or three days” to allow for a quick return of patients to the community. Recruitment is underway to train the various teams. The University Institutes of Mental Health in Quebec will serve as a reference for healthcare institutions when implementing the measures. Being more “complex” and aimed at a slightly larger clientele, short intervention units and home hospitalization will initially be deployed in six regions (Capitale-Nationale, Mauricie-Centre-du-Québec, Centre-West-of-the-Island). from Montreal, Center-South-Island-of-Montreal, Outaouais, Laval).