" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

December 03, 2008

Boundaries Resurfacing

- if only all boundaries were as straightforward as this lovely fence...

I never thought I'd say this but I now know what my short working stint at BC Mental Health was all about. It was the theoretical practicum for the real-live, hands-on test of having to diplomatically, compassionately and patiently work with the public who are walking through the door of the place I just started working at.

I walked through the same door when I first arrived just to check out what I might be missing in terms of work. So, clients could range from those with a PhD (have yet to see that in 3 days) or someone who wouldn't be certifiable under the Mental Health Act because they aren't really a danger to themselves or anyone else but they are completely krazy with a capital K; not operating in this solar system so to speak.

And it's sad. They're homeless. They're living in a tent. They're not on medication because it costs a lot of money. You look at their background and somewhere along the line they were in university, they went to school and then a mental health issue usurped everything. It's clear that they're not stupid but they are just in need of major intervention in every aspect of their life.

Meanwhile, they are in the office because it's public. They're trying so hard, looking at the job board, phoning people and all the while you're thinking oh my god, I've been in the office 2 days and already I'm seeing a major moral dilemma. They have the right to look for work, and look at the jobs on our board but at the same time don't we have some responsibility to protect the company's reputation and not allow them to indiscriminately call employers off the job board when clearly they are not employable.

So, it requires assessing this fine line of being compassionate and recognizing their precarious mental state while at the same time not wanting to have them in your face for great lengths of time or disturbing other clients who are in the office and who may be sitting less than a foot from them at a computer.

What is my point? My point is that you can't go anywhere without having it made clear that mental health is a serious crisis whether you're downtown Vancouver or on what is an idyllic little island. And, even if it wasn't a crisis, even if all the services in the world were available, would that be enough to change their paths?

How can you look for work when you have no phone, no e-mail, no computer, no car, no place to live but a tent? It's hard enough when all those are a given. How can you look for work when you can't even focus on answering a question without launching into some rant that ranges from how horrible it is that children are sexually abused to some delusion about a lawyer trying to electrocute you?

And, then I'm thinking, I just have to work there one month and I will be a familiar face to every person who walks in there. So much for anonymity. I mean having your name attached to a byline in a paper is one thing because there's a certain distance with that but that doesn't exist when you're dealing with a lot of people face to face.

I am finding this very interesting from a spiritual point of view. I"m mulling over the concept that there are no coincidences.

So much for the peaceful little New Age enclave!

I think I see why we have a security system that includes video cameras and why the two of us have panic buttons.

I hope I never have to use mine.

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