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Posts from the ‘Public Policy’ Category

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.

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Mental health and human rights: Can Ontario’s new policy help?

By Roslyn Shields, CAMH Senior Policy Analyst

This past Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend the release of the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s new policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health disabilities and addictions.

The Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall proudly introduced this tool for change and the Empowerment Council’s Lucy Costa remarked that the policy will help put Ontario on the “rights track.”

This new policy will assist people and organizations to define, assess and resolve human rights issues related to mental health disabilities and addictions, such as modifying work hours for an employee to attend counselling appointments or making amendments to a housing unit for a tenant with post traumatic stress disorder. And it’s clear that this help is needed.

Despite protection for people with disabilities under the Human Rights Code, people with mental health disabilities and addictions continue to experience discrimination in many areas of their lives.

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How can we prevent LGBTQ suicide?

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

For many of us in lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) communities, dealing with depression, anxiety, and occasional suicidal thoughts is just part of the grind.

For some of us, losing our friends to suicide has become a rite of passage.

Recent studies make it clear that suicide rates are high for LGBTQ people, especially bisexual and trans people.

Canadian data from 2003 show that bisexuals are more likely to consider suicide, compared with our straight, gay, and lesbian peers (see: Men’s sexual orientation and health in Canada, and Women’s sexual orientation and health: Results from a Canadian population-based survey).

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Vote for mental health #Vote4MHA

I always get a little emotional during elections. As a student of political science, I have always taken my duty to participate seriously.

As a citizen, I have always felt proud and grateful to live in a free and democratic country. And, I love placing that ballot into the box!

I am equally passionate about CAMH’s promise to drive social change. We are improving the lives of people with mental illness and addictions by building awareness and understanding, promoting healthy public policies, and collaborating to improve our system of care.

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