Petrolia backs project to put mental health resources in hands


Heather Wright/The Independent

Mental health advocate Debb Pitel wants to make it easy for people to find the help they need when they’re in crisis.

Pitel, whose son died by suicide, has written a book about her family’s journey and built a training manual to teach people how to talk to people contemplating suicide.

Now, Pitel wants to print 100,000 booklets explaining what services are available in Lambton County and place them in easily accessible spots.

“These brochures would be scattered throughout the community in a very specific way. These are brochures that could be picked up in a non-clinical sense whether they be at a local coffee shop, the library, the township office,” she told Petrolia Council Monday.

“This really broadens the connection between the average person to the professionals and it’s part of the breaking down the stigma to get these mental health resources in our community, in front of our community in just a different way.”

She added, “these brochures would stand to be a great resource for the professionals to hand out in the field.”

Pitel is hopeful that by putting the resources in people’s hands in a place they frequent it will “take away from the stigma and the wait for people to make an appointment with professionals that may be beyond their comfort zone and have the communications in the privacy of their own home … and make sure that they connect with the proper resource quickly, so that there’s no guesswork where the need is or what resources can best suit their need immediately.

“It’s been my research over the last 10 to 12 years that we don’t always get second and third opportunities to support people.”

Councillor Grant Purdy backed up the need for more help.

“I know myself working as a paramedic that sometimes the resources can be a bit convoluted and overwhelming and compartmentalized,” he says.

“And it makes it difficult sometimes for people to get the right resource at the right time.”

Council backed the idea of the project and will also contribute financially to help get 150 brochures into all rural Lambton communities by July.

While the council does have a small amount of money set aside for grants, it is usually given out at budget time.

Councillor Joel Field suggested some of the town’s pandemic money from the provincial and federal governments could be used since the mental health crisis has worsened during the pandemic.

Field suggested, and council agreed, to provide $2,500 to the project. He hopes that will encourage other municipalities to get on board and help pay for the production of the booklet.