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Posts from the ‘Social Change’ Category

Q&A: Getting to know CAMH’s ethicist, Kevin Reel

by Joan Chang

CAMH ethicist Kevin Reel

Ethicist Kevin Reel

Q: What’s a health care ethicist?

A: What we do in the practice of healthcare ethics is help people think through really challenging decisions and situations and figure out what causes that sense of ‘yuck’ that we feel when ethical values are in conflict – our own, or each other’s.

The more official term for the ‘yuck’ factor is moral distress, but ‘yuck’ really tells it the way it is. The problem with the ‘yuck’ feeling is that it’s not always reliable. We may not feel it at all when we should, or the ‘yuck’ might be more emotional than ethical.

Ethical decisions are essentially about trying to figure what is the ‘good’ or ‘right’ thing to do in a situation. Such situations occur every day, and often go unnoticed because they are pretty straightforward. But sometimes they are much more complex.

Thinking through them can be much easier when an objective person helps you. The ethicist can be that objective person – part of, and familiar with, CAMH, but not in the middle of the situation. Read more

Survey: What do people think of our tobacco free policy?

by Lilian Riad-Allen

In the cigar shop that doubled as a convenience store by my first residence in university, I remember the old cigarette ads plastered across the wall: Doctors in white coats promoting their favourite brand of cigarettes, children and even babies in cigarette ads, and women talking about the weight loss benefits of smoking.

I was always intrigued by these images as they seemed to reflect a reality that I couldn’t imagine. Attitudes had shifted so much since then that the idea of a physician advocating for tobacco use seemed almost satirical.

Attitudes have indeed been shifting. Since the first US surgeon general’s report in 1964[1] , the number of people smoking has been in constant decline to where we are now, 50 years later, with approximately 17 per cent of Canadians still smoking.

When you compare that to the number of people with mental health and addiction issues who smoke, you see a striking difference – with an estimated smoking prevalence of over 60 per cent. 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

Be Safe app for youth: A community creating change

by Erin Schulthies

BeSafe

Be Safe was first developed for young people in London Ontario, to help them navigate the mental health system. If you’re interested in adapting for your city, contact mindyourmind

On April 1st, the London branch of the Systems Improvement through Service Collaboratives launched the Be Safe app, a tool to help youth in crisis.

With both a smartphone version and a printable paper pocket guide (pdf), it is versatile for both young people and their mental health care providers.

I should know. After 13 years in London’s mental health care system, knowing the essentials of my needs in crisis is key to weathering my storms.

The Be Safe app helps me keep my personal information close at hand and helps me choose where to turn should I need extra support.

I am proud to say that I was part of the team that developed this app from the beginning, along with other youth with lived experience. 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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