A Canadian health system that relies on a network of amish people has seen a significant increase in the number of mental illness cases, with more than 1,000 people diagnosed with mental illness in the past five years, according to a recent report.
The Ottawa Health Authority said more than half of the people with mental health issues were Amish and more than one-third of them were children.
The health authority says the number has increased by 50 per cent in the last five years and the agency is trying to get more information from the public and the amish community.
“The amish are in a much better position than we are,” said Dr. Anne-Marie MacLaughlin, the chief medical officer of the health authority.
“We can help them more with their mental health and their emotional wellbeing, and we can work with them to create pathways that are mutually beneficial for their mental and emotional wellbeing.”
MacLaughlin said that since she took over the health agency in 2013, Amish have seen a steady increase in people needing help and are looking for help.
The health authority said more people are becoming seriously ill because of mental health problems.
“It is an ongoing challenge to get people to the mental health clinic, and that’s where we see the most dramatic increase in mental health cases,” MacLaughlin said.
“When we see those numbers, it’s really heart-breaking.”‘
We’re all on a journey’The health agency said people are finding that while they are not alone in their mental illness, it can have long-term consequences.
“We’re just on a very, very, long journey together,” Maclaughlin said.
“People with mental disorders, they have all sorts of challenges, they all have problems in their lives and that includes themselves.”
The health system is helping people find help through its Crisis Line and is also working with a variety of health-care providers.
The Health Minister says that includes the Amish.
Health Minister Deb Matthews said the health system wants to help people find the support they need, but the numbers are so high.
“I think what we’re really trying to do is help people understand what they need and what’s available, and then we’re going to make sure that they can get the help that they need,” Matthews said.
Amish community health officer Catherine Purdy says the rise in mental illness is not unique to the Ottawa area.
She said it is a problem in the Amishes and that she and her team have been overwhelmed by the sheer number of people needing care.
“You get to the point where you don’t even know if you’re going in for treatment,” Purdy said.
Purdy says people who are in need of treatment are not given enough time to find a solution to their mental issues.
“This is really a systemic problem, and it’s not just the Ottawa community, but it’s the rest of the country,” she said.
The Health Authority says they will also continue to work with the Amished and other groups, such as the Catholic Church, to help address the problem.
MacLaughlyn said the system has a lot of work ahead, but she hopes it will help keep the community safe.
“To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s an Amish family that has a child that has this or that, that’s a problem that needs to be addressed, and so I think that this is a great way to address that,” she explained.
“That’s what the Amishers do: they are an independent, self-sufficient, independent community.”