kristian shaw 3

Story by Kristian Shaw

Those who have a mental illness and a developmental disability really need a resolution between themselves and the professionals they deal with sometimes on a daily basis.

It’s very important for everyone in the medical field, for example, to not only know about mental illness, but to also understand how having a mental illness may be different for those who also have mental challenges.

A dual diagnosis creates other challenges to an already challenged individual.

If they encounter anyone in their travels who lacks understanding about this, life becomes very hard.

Those with dual diagnoses come across policemen, doctors, nurses and other professionals with so much knowledge in their fields, but if they lack understanding regarding a dual diagnosis, it could result in further trauma to the individual.

This lack of understanding can create non-compliance from the individual, making a professional’s job harder as well. nurse 2

So everyone benefits when all are trained to understand the whole picture.

Hospitals have a no tolerance for violence rule. But this rule cannot be looked at just as black and white.

When I was 22, I had a very scary experience. I am mentally challenged and had a psychotic break.

I went into the hospital very scared, clinging on to my Mickey Mouse doll that I’ve had since I was 10.

One night I called a nurse because I was having a bleeding nose. She came running in without turning the light on and startled me.

I was half asleep and struck out to protect myself and ended up striking her in the mouth. To make a long story short, the nurse called the police to press charges.

The police came to the hospital, talked to the nurse and then sent charges to crown counsel. The police never talked to me or my mom. Crown counsel rejected the charges.

What a disaster my life would have been if it went the other way. I don’t have a history of violence and striking her was clearly a mistake.

police(1)The police should get both sides of the story, but they have no training in situations like this. Three years later I found out I have bipolar.

A good resolution would be that the nurses and police need to be trained by the professionals and self advocates in the developmental disability field who understand and can give them different solutions that will be more positive to a person with a dual diagnosis.

My wish is that Inclusion BC can work with self advocates like myself to bring training and knowledge to the nurses and police at professional colleges and in professional development courses.

We need to teach all the different ways of coping with all sorts of people. A person with mental challenges is going to react differently to a psychosis than some one who just has bipolar.

Everyone in society needs to gain understanding in all areas of life.

I am very excited for this change to happen and for the possibility that a Resolution it will be passed at the Inclusion BC Annual General Meeting.

Professionals need to be accountable and someone needs to hold them accountable. The police system and the mental health system is a mess if they are so quick to prosecute.

For me, I don’t even remember this happening. I found out about it when I applied for a criminal record check.

Police told my mom what happened and said even if crown counsel rejects the charge it still stays as a negative on my criminal record check.

After my mom told the police what she was told by the nurses they even considered it an accident and cleared my record.

People who are sick, and have a mental illness, as well as a developmental disability, don’t have a complete understanding on things.



So here is some advice.


1. Don’t prosecute so quickly when it’s a person with a developmental disability and a mental illness. Investigate both sides.


2. Have understanding and compassion of the situation as a whole.
3. Before you react, think. Was this reaction a form of aggression with intent to hurt or was it due to fear with no intent to hurt.



People with a dual diagnosis need to feel your compassion and support in order to lead them in the right direction toward getting better.

If society works together toward this goal as a whole, people will feel accepted and respond more positively to treatment.


Update to my story:
Thanks from the  bottom of my heart for giving police and other mental health nurses expertise so what happened to me won’t happen to anyone else especially those who have developmental disabilities and mental illness.
I am grateful that the Inclusion BC Federation passed it at the Inclusion BC AGM.
Thanks for all the support even from people who don’t know me personally;
I am glad it is passed to make sure everyone is accountable and has the right knowledge and understanding.
Police and mental health nurses deal with us daily, so therefore they need to know about positive behavior support when they deal with all of us.
Thank you!
by Kristian Shaw
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