Wednesday, May 9, 2018

'The people that have the voice are too tired to raise their voice'

This family! If you haven't watched the film Caring for Tor that aired on CBC The National, you must. It fits perfectly with Mental Health Week as it relates to families caring for young adults with complex disabilities and medical needs. 

Caring for Tor is told from the perspective of Stephane Alexis, 24, who has put his life on hold to care for his younger brother Torence. "He's non verbal, he doesn't really have any balance, he's completely dependent," Stephane says.

"A year ago, when Tor turned 21, he graduated from high school, and all the services stopped. So when that happened, we didn't have any support during the day and all of the work kind of fell to my dad."  

With his mother working full-time, Stephane became one of Tor's caregivers. He describes caring for Tor with his parents as being like a member of a finely coordinated orchestra.

The love and dedication in this family is boundless. But the demands are constant, round the clock, and Stephane worries about the future.

"Any kind of long, continuous strain has an impact on you mentally," Stephane says, noting that his friends are focused on their careers and chasing their dreams. 

"I can't do this forever...What will happen if I'm not there to kind of relieve the pressure? Everyone's getting older and the needs are going up and it's kind of breaking the balance. It's easy ignoring these people cause there's no voice. Because the people that have the voice are too tired to raise their voice."

The Centre for Mental Health and Addiction has an excellent campaign designed to remove stigma about mental health, and it certainly applies to the needs of this family: 'My mental health is as important as my physical health.'