Grieving mother continues fight for services in memory of lost son

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Dianne Young of Charlottetown is growing impatient with government to make needed improvements to better help Islanders with addictions and mental health issues. Young’s son took his life last year after a long battle drugs and mental illness.

This is no idle cause.

Dianne Young of Charlottetown has chomped into the task of promoting the need to improve both mental health services and addiction services in P.E.I. with the bite and tenacity of a pit bull terrier.

The motivation could not be stronger. Young is fiercely determined to push for changes that may spare others from the years of harm addiction wrought on her 29-year-old son Lennon Waterman before the young man chose to end his life by leaping into the North River last November.

She has gone public with her story of loss.

She has rallied support for her campaign, organizing a well-attended protest in mid-April to urge lawmakers in the province to do more to provide services for Islanders struggling with addictions and facing poor mental health.

She even earned a recent meeting with Health Minister Doug Currie and Dr. Rhonda Matters, the chief mental health and addictions officer for the province.

Now she is looking to form a committee comprised of “people that are like minded as far as the holistic approach of addictions and recovery, instead of medicine (like) putting people on methadone.’’

A homeopathic doctor and a former addictions worker are among the potential members of her desired committee.

Whatever form and direction the committee takes — or any other action Young pursues — the woman is not going to turn her back on what she views as a big problem in need of immediate, sizable action.

“I’m the kind of person when I put my mind to doing something, I do it,’’ she said.

“I’m not quite sure where it’s going to go, but it’s going somewhere because I’m feeling like I’ve started this and I’m feeling like I have to continue with it.’’

Young and many others have been criticizing the Ghiz government for dragging its heels on a huge problem that is causing great harm and costing lives.

In late April, Currie answered the call to action — at least in words.

The health minister declared the time for talk and study on addictions is over. He plans to release a list of recommendations from Matters and promptly act upon them.

The chief mental health and addictions officer has spent several months meeting with frontline staff and stakeholders in an effort to get a good grasp of the issues that surround addictions and mental health in P.E.I.

Young is eager to see just what the province is willing and able to put in place. She is also skeptical.

“The way I’m thinking now is anytime I’ve ever had any hope in the government, I was disappointed,’’ she said.

She fears the province will pump money into sending Islanders to places like the Portage Residential Centre in New Brunswick rather than building a facility here that is capable of providing long-term treatment.

“I’m just a little worried that they’re not going to do anything here on P.E.I. - that they are going to put their money into other provinces and think that that is going to fix the problem,’’ said Young.

“We want to keep them (government) on their friggin’ toes.’’

Organizations: Portage Residential Centre

Geographic location: P.E.I., Charlottetown, North River New Brunswick

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