Emily's Story

Your support is essential in helping to fund the best mental health care for people in our community.


I’ve lived with anxiety since I was little. And then, when I was just 17 years old, I lost my father suddenly to suicide


Mental illness wasn’t talked about much back then - and if you can believe it, that was only 10 years ago. We’ve come a long way in the last decade, but there’s still so much work to be done to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues and work towards a world where people receive proper care when and where they need it. 


Before I tell you about my career as a Psychiatric Liaison Nurse in the Urgent Care Department at Victoria Hospital, I want to take a moment to thank you. 


I want to personally thank you for your past support and for caring about our patients. I see first-hand the people that your support is helping and I want you to know how grateful I am that our hospital and patients have compassionate people like you on our side.


It’s been a tremendously difficult two years with the pandemic and the rise in mental health issues in our community… but thanks to your kindness, together we are changing the lives of hundreds of people every day.


I’ve been a nurse for four years. I began working at Victoria Hospital in the fall of 2020, with the mental health relief team, then transitioned to Urgent Care in the summer of 2021. 


I know that deep down inside, the reason why I chose this career is because of my own personal lived experience. I have a strong connection to mental health and I try to hold that close to my heart while providing support to my patients. I always think about the type of care that I would have wanted when I was growing up - I talk to every patient in a way that helps them understand that in that very moment, someone truly cares about them and wants to help. 


All those years ago, my parents didn’t know where to turn for help with my anxiety and with my father’s mental illness… but I’m proud to say that today, I’ve become that person who people turn to in times of severe distress and crisis.

No two days are ever the same for me. When someone comes to Urgent Care with a mental health crisis, they’re often at the absolute lowest point in their lives. Many are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, while others have attempted to end their lives. 


My patients come in for a range of mental health issues, including people with undiagnosed, untreated or treatment-resistant depression and anxiety. I’ve sat with patients who have just received the absolute worst news of their life and they are in extreme distress - everything from a cancer diagnosis to a terminal illness or a miscarriage. 


Mental illness knows no bounds. Each and every one of us will experience a mental health concern in our lifetime, or we’ll know someone close to us who will. 


And when you need us, we’ll be there. 


Thanks to the kindness of people like you, my colleagues and I are helping approximately 170 people every month who arrive at Urgent Care for an acute mental health crisis or substance use issue. 


Did you know that the number of people seeking emergency mental health care monthly has doubled since 2018? And sadly, those numbers are continuing to climb - we are experiencing a mental health crisis. 


That’s why we rely on donor support - to ensure that we can be there for each and every person who walks through those Urgent Care doors. Regardless of how they get here, no matter who they come with, they are here because they have hope. 


We all deserve a life that is filled with dignity, meaning and possibility …


With your support today, that life is possible.


My team and I are often the first point of contact for our patients. We work hard and fast to stabilize them. Then, we provide an assessment and help with treatment recommendations for mental health care moving forward. 


We have three other mental health programs at Victoria Hospital, where many of our Urgent Care patients are transferred. They include our inpatient unit, outpatient unit and a special unit for our geriatric patients with mental health concerns. 


At the end of the day, my job is to first and foremost keep people safe. And sometimes they just need time in a calm, healing environment to talk to the psychiatric team, which can often be difficult in an Urgent Care setting …


The challenge right now is that our Urgent Care Department has a high volume of patients with serious medical conditions, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 


Now more than ever, the need to transform our hospital’s Urgent Care Department to meet the changing needs of our community is essential. We need to ensure our patients who are most in need receive individualized care in a private and supportive environment that is conducive to their mental health recovery.


And on that note, I’d like to share some exciting news with you…


Thanks to the support we’ve received from people like you, we have opened the new Manitoba Blue Cross Mental Health Assessment Unit located right inside our Urgent Care Department! 


The new unit is a dedicated space within Urgent Care, designed to provide individualized care in a private and supportive environment that is conducive to recovery. Urgent Care and mental health teams will work together to provide specialized mental health assessments and care in a calming, home-like environment. This innovative, evidence-based model of care is leveraging the skills, knowledge, and expertise of our interprofessional team to meet the unique needs of our patients, while providing a holistic approach to mental health care under one roof. 


The six-bed unit is the first integrated space of its kind in Manitoba, enabling our hospital to lead best practices in the pre-admission care of individuals experiencing acute mental illness. 


With your support today, you’re helping us provide the best possible mental health care for our most vulnerable patients, through this dedicated and healing space. 


I’m choosing to open up about my own personal experience with mental illness and the loss of my dad to suicide, because the more we talk about these topics, the less scary they will be, the less stigma they will hold and the more people we can help.


I believe that if my dad were here today, he’d be proud of me and the work that I’m doing at Victoria Hospital. It’s not an easy job, and I definitely have my moments - some days I come home from work and I can’t talk to anyone because of stress and the trauma that I witness. 


I believe that if I can give people a positive experience coming into Urgent Care, and if I can show them that we have a plan for them - and they are heard and seen, that I feel like I’ve done a good job. 


Your donation today will make a difference in someone’s life forever. Thank you for caring about our patients, the frontline staff and your community. 


With gratitude, 

Emily McLeod, Psychiatric Liaison Nurse

Victoria Hospital.

P.S. Please make a gift to Victoria Hospital Foundation today, so we can continue supporting our community and ensure that everyone receives care where and when it’s needed.