Mother fights for voice in mentally ill son’s treatment – New Brunswick

Two years ago, Sylvie Messer called police on her mentally ill son in an attempt to get him adequate care. Today, she finds herself once again trying to have a say in his treatment.

Messer has gone to extreme lengths to get the legal right to make decisions about her son’s treatment.

Shawn Smith, 31, has chronic paranoid schizophrenia, and cannot make decisions for himself, she says.

“Shawn has no insight on his illness whatsoever, so because of that someone needs to help him make the right decisions when it comes to his mental illness,” Messer said.

Messer’s son, Shawn Smith, was charged with uttering death threats in 2015. (Submitted by Sylvie Messer)

Messer, who lives in Prince William in the Fredericton area, obtained a “power of committee” after hiring a lawyer, gathering affidavits from Smith’s psychiatrists and going before a judge.

The rare court order was granted in 2013, two years before Smith made death threats against his mother and provoked her into calling police.

The order not only gives Messer the right to make treatment decisions, it also means she has the right to be kept informed by health practitioners and caregivers about any changes or decisions involving her son.

After he made the death threats, Smith was sent to Restigouche Hospital Centre in Campbellton, which is what Messer had hoped would happen.

‘I’ve had to explain over and over’0:46

At Restigouche, she knew he would get mental health treatment more extensive than the short-term care available at a local hospital.

But because a “power of committee” is rare, Messer found herself constantly battling to be kept in the loop of her son’s treatment.

“I don’t think it’s wrongdoing on their part, I just think they don’t understand what it actually means,” she said.

During Smith’s 20 months as a patient in Restigouche and then during his stay at a group home in Moncton, Messer said she has…

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