Similar to America’s move in the mid-twentieth century toward the deinstitutionalization of those with significant mental health issues, Canadian journalist and author Denise Davy chronicles her country’s efforts to do the same in the heartbreaking biography of Margaret Louise Jacobson.
Davy notes that the homeless population in Canada is estimated to be approximately 235,000 each year, some 35.000 of whom are sleeping on the streets. Worse still, up to 70% of those homeless in Canada are suffering from some form of mental illness, and many end up incarcerated at one time or another.
In Her Name Was Margaret, Davy provides a human face to the complex issues of homelessness and psychiatric and supportive care for the mentally ill. Detailing years of neglectful social workers, rather uncaring and/or uninformed medical personnel, frustrated family members, and a calamitously underfunded source of housing and supportive care for deinstitutionalized mental care patients, Davy provides the reader with a heartrending account of the ways in which society failed to care for and help Ms. Jacobson. She also makes clear that there are hundreds of thousands of other Margarets out there, all of whom are in need of appropriate medical and supportive care.
Her Name Was Margaret is a compelling, thought-provoking read – one that reminds the reader to have a little more compassion and consideration for all those struggling with mental illness and/or homelessness.