To the editor:

Addictions and mental health are topics that are not generally thought about either because these illnesses are not ?popular? illnesses deserving of a walk-a-thon or there is a stigma related to mental illness and addictions. Ralph Klein might drink beer; your neighbour is a ?drunk.? Al Gore might like cannibas; your neighbour is a ?pot pusher.? John Nash, a schizophrenic, received the Nobel Prize on mathematics; your neighbour, the schizophrenic hears voices that tell him/her to kill someone. Mike Wallace suffers from bipolar disorder (manic depression) and admitted on the 60/60 program that he was suicidal at one point; your neighbour is either manic or depressed and has demons or is a Catholic and suicide is a sin.

What can help Northern Health respond to the needs of your ?drunk? neighbour, your ?pot pusher,? your schizophrenic hearing voices and your manic neighbour who has demons. Subsidized housing, detox centre, counselling services, psychiatric services, victim services, available assistance during the night/weekend period – usually the most vulnerable period, transportation to programs and medical services, web site, library of DVDs and books, an exorcist, a casino so the proceeds can pay for all that is needed especially for the counselling of the addicted gamblers.

If you have an illness or a friend or family member has an illness or you are a service provider or just someone who wishes to be heard, go to the Wednesday, May 30th meeting at 7:00 p.m. How often do the government representatives come to Tumbler Ridge for input? If you can?t make it that night there are town meetings in most towns in the North over a period of weeks. There is also a comment form. See www.northernhealth.ca for more information. The aboriginal community meetings were to be listed by the end of April. They should be listed by the time you read this.

We will lose the great services we have if we don?t emphasize their importance. We will never get what we need if we don?t advocate for them.

Ellen Sager