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Posts from the ‘Public Policy’ Category

Mental Illness and the Prison System

prison2

By Dr. Sandy Simpson, Chief of Forensic Psychiatry at CAMH

Why are so many people with mental illness in jail?Dr. Sandy Simpson

The problem of people with mental illness being over-represented in the criminal justice system is widely referred to as the ‘criminalisation of the mentally ill’. Why are there more people with mental health problems in the criminal justice system than there should be?

Mental illness rates are about 4 to 7 times more common in prison than in the community. The reasons for this are complex. Read more

CAMH’s Cannabis Policy Framework: Legalization with regulation

Dr. Jürgen Rehm

Dr. Jürgen Rehm

By Dr. Jürgen Rehm, Director of the Social and Epidemiological Research Department at CAMH

Today CAMH released a new Cannabis Policy Framework . This document examines the evidence on the harms associated with cannabis use and, based on that evidence, recommends legalization with strict regulation as the most effective means of reducing the harms associated with its use. Read more

Young and bisexual? Study highlights need for more support

by Margaret Robinson, Mi’kmaq feminist scholar working on LGBTQ issues in health

visualization of social network from study

This beautiful L-word-like diagram shows the recruitment pattern for our Risk & Resilience study on “bi” mental health.

When it comes to LGBTQ health issues, bisexual people are frequently overlooked. Too often, bisexuality is dismissed as a phase or trend, and programs designed for gay, lesbian, or trans youth may not provide the support and mentorship that bisexual youth need.

A study by the CAMH Re:searching for LGBTQ Health team raises important questions about how we understand and support bisexual youth.

Our team surveyed 405 bisexual-identified people across Ontario, and compared the data about young people (between age 16 and 24) with adults (25 and older).

See: Mental Health and Substance Use among Bisexual Youth and Non-Youth in Ontario, Canada

Read more

Police and the mental health system: An opportunity for positive social change

Polic encounters with people in crisis - text from report cover

I’m publicly supporting Justice Frank Iacobucci’s report to the Toronto Police Service (TPS), Police Encounters with People in Crisis (pdf).

It’s an important step toward changing the way society thinks about, and responds to, people with mental illness.

I’m honoured to serve on the advisory committee that will assist the TPS to implement the report’s recommendations.

Jennifer Chambers of CAMH’s Empowerment Council played a prominent advocacy role in the lead-up to the report. She is so right when she says that one of the best ways to address prejudice against a group is to give them a voice and it’s very gratifying to see that people with lived experience of mental illness will be members of the implementation committee.

The tragic death of teenager Sammy Yatim last year led to this report. I share Justice Iacobucci’s view that balance is necessary in addressing the gaps brought to light by this tragedy. Read more

YES! Ontario’s mental health and human rights policy can help

By Lucy Costa, Advocate with the Empowerment Council

poster and brochures for the OHCR policy on mental health disabilities and addictions

I support the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) policy and in fact, I support any and all avenues that discuss the rights of people with psychiatric disabilities and/or addictions – whether via the Ontario Human Rights Code or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act or the CAMH Bill of Client Rights (pdf).

Why? Because:

  1. Rights processes unsettle the status quo, they defeat denial by challenging powerful institutions or practices that entrench prejudice or inequality even in well-meaning individuals and organizations.   
  2. The principle that one cannot be more or less human than any another member of our society is the most unprecedented act of love and equality we can all aspire to.

As limited as legal instruments may be, I believe we shouldn’t succumb to a buffet of opposing arguments for example, that rights are a “hollow hope” or, that rights “have gone too far” in protecting clients from needed treatment. This only succeeds in obscuring the significance and meaning of dialogue that can occur through tribunals, lower and higher courts particularly for people who are otherwise rendered voiceless.

Read more

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