64 – We ADVOCATE for THIS Number

“Through all the confusion glimmers hope as little bits of truths are shared as he slips in, and out, of reality, or rather, a world that I can relate to. I find it easy to speak to him, and he is willing to accept my help.” The words of our fieldworker reflecting on one of the Humanity Hub’s clients, *Barry.

Severe mental illness is a very real concern on the streets and there is not enough advocacy and professional support services. There aren’t even sufficient institutions equipped with the necessary resources to adequately support persons living with mental illness who are not battling homelessness as well.

Some of our clients’ mental illnesses have been induced by trauma (often trauma of living on the streets) or substance abuse, while for many their mental illness has been present since birth. These clients, our **‘64’s, are the most challenging cases where access to intervention and support services are almost insurmountable. How do we help restore the dignity of a mentally ill person living on the streets when the very Mental Health Care Act and Regulations that are meant to assist, are the very reason why so many find themselves on the streets?

We can assist clients who aren’t a danger to themselves or others. If they are, the alternative is placement via form 64 that requires SAPS to transport such persons to the nearest hospital for admission, assessment, medication, and referral to a government psychiatric facility.

Barry is one of the fortunate few. He has built a good rapport with our fieldworker thanks to previous intervention support. The objective now is to assist Barry with access to his medication and admission to a suitable psychiatric facility to aid him with reintegration into society once he has adjusted to his medication.

* not his real name

**named for the form that requires SAPS to deal with mentally ill people