P.A. woman says quick mental health treatment saved her life

By Nigel Maxwell
June 12, 2018 - 2:00pm

A Prince Albert woman is crediting her own "brutal" honesty for the quick treatment she received for her serious mental health issues.

Arlene Dreger, 37, was responding to the provincial auditor’s report released last week. The report criticized the former Prince Albert Parkland Health Region for long wait times among mental health and addictions patients who were assessed as lower risk. paNOW published an article detailing the frustration of one local parent, who said she was having difficulty securing help for her daughter who had attempted suicide on more than one occasion, but Dreger said she had a very different experience and credited the health system with saving her life.

Dreger said can still vividly remember the day she tried to kill herself using pills and alcohol. After her attempt failed, she said she felt like her heart was going to explode, and that’s when she drove to the hospital seeking help.

"I didn't lie about how much I was drinking. I told them specifically I did a 26 of vodka a day," she said. "I didn't lie about the drugs I was doing. I told them I was doing cocaine and I told them I was smoking marijuana."

Dreger said she believes because of her honesty, doctors were able to assess what she needed and within 24 hours she was put into contact with a mental health therapist and was also introduced to the support team at the Mobile Crisis Unit. Dreger said she's heard the negative stories from people who claim they cannot get help, but feels honesty is the key to getting appropriate treatment quickly.

"When I went in and asked for help I was brutally honest with what was going on," she said. "They think that the medical profession is magical, and they're not."

Dreger said she can now recognize negative influences in her own life, but expressed concerns that not everyone has the same level of awareness or the ability to articulate their problems, particularly young people.

"When I think about teens I don't think a lot of them have gotten to that point where they know how to verbalize and recognize their emotions and how bad they are actually feeling," she said.

Brett Enns, executive director of primary care with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, told paNOW the lengthy wait times cited in the provincial auditor’s report typically only happened after the patients were assessed as lower risk.

The SHA encouraged anyone having suicidal thoughts to call the Provincial Health Line or visit Mental Health Outpatient Services in Prince Albert, which offers walk-in service Monday through Friday.


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