Do BCC inmates get professional help?


Although I have not lived in Iqaluit for a while, I feel there is really something wrong about how the Inuit aren’t getting total benefits from the so-called authorities.

The judge said that the Baffin Correctional Centre has a psychiatry ward. (Nunatsiaq News, May 17, 2002) The distinction between psychoanalyst, psychiatrist and psychologist needs to be clarified, because it is not a simple one.

Psychiatry is a branch of medicine and as such, psychiatrists are concerned largely with the treatment of mental illness and psychological problems. Psychiatrists, like physicians (or general practitioners), may use drugs in the treatment of mental illness, or they may use other methods such as behaviour therapy — a technique also used by psychologists. Psychologists train by taking a degree course in psychology in which all aspects of behavior and its underlying causes — in humans or other animals — are studied.

One distinction between psychologists, psychiatrists and psychoanalysts is that the former are concerned with all people, while latter two are concerned solely with those who cannot cope, and who are unwell. Clinical psychologists, however, also make the patient the main focus of their work, but the treatment methods used by them involve therapies that do not rely on the prescription of drugs.

Psychoanalysts have their own training, which is quite separate from that of both psychologists and psychiatrists. This training usually involves the would-be analyst first undergoing psychoanalysis themselves in order to gain increased insight. Psychologists and psychiatrists sometimes undergo further training to become psychoanalysts, and so it is perhaps not surprising that there is sometimes confusion, in the minds of the public, about these three professions.

Questions: Are these people at BCC getting the medicine they need to help them with their mental illnesses? Are they getting help with their behavior problems? Do they have qualified professionals working at BCC?

I will share my own experience with my own behaviour problems that I had growing up in Iqaluit. I tried to commit suicide more than once when I was between 17 and 19 years of age. For me, (I really didn’t want to die), I never really succeeded in killing myself.

All I wanted was some attention, attention that I wasn’t getting as a child. It all boils down to childhood trauma. Like I said again, I was in a mental state of being unwell. I had to get real professional help about my past. I went to sexual abuse counselling for three years, and I also went to a psychiatrist for at least six months. I had to get lots of help from counsellors.

Are these people at BCC getting help that way?

We already know that going hunting won’t solve your mental illnesses, although it might for a little bit. But you need lots of help with the wreckage of your past. As of today, I’m still healing. It’s a life-long therapy, but it works.

How does it work? By working with another person. It cannot be done on your own, all it takes is talking to someone and getting honest with your feelings, feelings you have never shared. Stop living in the dark.

There is a solution. I have a friend who spent half his life in prison because he was a schizophrenic. But, he got well. It can be done. If this guy can recover, I know it can help others.

But like I said, it almost seems like they don’t have the right like of treatment up north.

Dr. Sam Law sees people only on short-term basis? Hello… You probably know it takes more than just short-term visits to get well.

Kunnuk Takpannie

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