On the first day the Emergent Mental Health Assessment Unit (EMHAU) opened in September 2020, a new mum came to Southlake’s Emergency Department for care. She was experiencing severe symptoms of post-partum depression, and her family knew she needed help and support. At first, she was brought into our older space for admitting mental health patients directly to the Emergency Department: the Mental Health and Wellness Area. It was dark, hectic, loud and crowded. When the Mental Health Team arrived to transport her to the newly opened EMHAU space, she was completely unresponsive. Despondent, the new mum wouldn’t speak a word, staying curled into herself on a stretcher and covering herself with blankets.
I tried to engage with her in a meaningful way, coaxing some response that would give me a better sense of her condition. Nothing. But within an hour of arriving in the EMHAU and placing her in a private room with a bed, I passed by her room and noticed she was sitting up and looking out the window; it was a sunny fall day. To most people, this might seem insignificant. But I’ve seen so many other people experience what she was going through, and to me, the difference was like night and day. Something as simple as a change of environment, a moment of peace in an overwhelming experience, can be the key to shifting from breakdown to recovery. That’s the essence of our new space: building an environment where the healing can begin as soon as patients come through our doors.
While there’s a long way to go, we’re heading in the right direction because of donors like you. On behalf of the entire Mental Health Team at Southlake: thank you.
Manager, Adult Inpatient Mental Health Unit
To learn more about our mental health campaign to build spaces that heal, visit southlake.ca/better.