This year I have been in and out of the hospital, my longest stay being 3 1/2 months. During my stays I had a hard time witnessing how fellow mental health patients were being treated.

My stay started off with two days in a hallway in the ER with 6 other patients with beds all lined up one after another. There is no privacy, no therapy given to us except a daily psych assessment; which the doctor in the ER admitted to e people lie and say they are fine just to get out of the hallway. We have to stay in the hallway at all times, and are escorted by security to go to the bathroom or take a shower. My second stay I was kept in the hallway for three days, when I first went into the hallway the patients had not been taken to a shower in 4 days.

The city in which I live has 5 hospitals, one is for long term mental health patients and the elderly and out of the other 4 only one hospital has a mental health ward; this has resulted in overcrowding in the mental health department, especially the adult ward.

I've seen too many patients (while a patient myself) get discharged before they were ready. Why you may ask, because the hospital needs that bed for someone else. Just a few years ago patients have had to sleep on the floor as the hospital had no room for them. This is degrading and is costing people their lives. Patients are taking their own lives in the hospital, or when they go back home after being turned away because there was not enough space.

It breaks my heart knowing that there is not enough support for the mentally ill not only in my community but my country as well. Something needs to be done, and it starts with small changes.

I encourage those who can to look into the mental health wards in their community or places set up to help support the mentally ill. Just donating some old coats and sweaters, especially with winter coming, can seriously help someone and lift their spirits.

Many patients will come off the streets straight into the hospital, with no proper clothing, especially outdoor clothes, and nowhere to go but a shelter after their hospital stay.

The simplest and smallest acts of kindness can really help someone in need :)