Steve - Father

Steve's Story

Steve, a member of the Ontario Shores Family Council, is the father of two young adults who have mental illness.

Text Transcript

Steve: I didn’t know anything about mental illness and my son was just finishing high school and of the course at that point in the was the plan was "where are you going to university?" I was saying "Come on, you have to get with it. Sit down in front of the computer. Go through all the process. You have to go to the website and apply to the central processing thing." He wasn’t taking the lead on anything.

I started noticing behaviours that just didn’t seem right.  He wasn’t motivated, wasn’t taking charge and the behaviours just kept going on until he finished school.

All of his friends moved on after high school and he decided to go to work. So I helped him get a job at a car wash. His boss happened to be a friend of mine and he said to me one day, “something is wrong, he isn’t connecting with any of his co-workers".

So I took him to see a psychologist who suggested their was an organic problem and that he should go to the family doctor and get a referral for a psychiatrist. We went to see the psychiatrist and within a half an hour he said, “Your son has schizophrenia.” He was treated as an outpatient, but over time he became more ill. Then he got admitted and that was the beginning. 

He was here for a year in the STEP program [now referred to as the Young Adults Transitional Service] and that kind of saved our lives in terms of stabilizing the home life. He has a sister. We knew where he was and that he was safe and being treated it was a relief that we found the help he needed. 

Eventually he was discharged and lived at Petrie house for about a year, and then he started to relapse. Now he is back here at Ontario Shores in the PRA unit where they are waiting to find him a place to discharge him to. He will probably go to the McKay house in Whitby because he needs more supervision.

While all of this is going on the doctors said to be observant of my daughter because the odds of her having schizophrenia were one in ten compared to the regular population of one in 100. I was told this while she was in her third year at Trent University.

Two years ago she had a psychotic episode while she was going to university. She was hospitalized in Peterborough for two months and then she was transferred here.

She was also participating in STEP for about six months. The prognosis is really good for her, and not so good for him. Personally those were the darkest days of my whole life.  I had expectations for my kids to go to university. Then at a certain point in time I would be able to do what I want to do. But instead I will be spending my retirement managing these situations.

My expectations for my children went from going to University to hoping they learn how to look after themselves because I’m not going to be around forever to manage their lives.  But I couldn’t ask for a better facility and its right at our doorstep. I feel so grateful that we happen to live here. For something like this to happen, we couldn’t be in a better place then in Ontario.

It’s not just one person involved when someone in the family has a mental illness it’s a whole family. And ultimately society at large is involved just as much. Mental illness is no less important than any other physical illness and it needs the same kind of attention. In a way I feel like Ontario Shores saved us and that makes me want to give back.

Narrator: 1 in 4 Canadians are affected by mental illness at some point in their lives. For more information about mental illness or Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, visit