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CMHA guest blogs for Legal Aid Ontario

July 17, 2014

Mental health is a key priority for Legal Aid Ontario, including the development of a mental health strategy that will strengthen the capacity of lawyers, front-line workers and management to improve services for people living with mental health issues.

CMHA Ontario strongly supports this goal, and recently created two guest blogs for LAO about justice and human rights related issues that impact on people with mental health issues in Ontario.

…there is a significant chance that a police record is created when an Ontarian calls police for help during a mental health crisis.

In her blog, Dorina Simeonov, a CMHA Ontario policy analyst, writes about the evolving landscape of police record checks.  Simeonov explains that there is a significant chance that a police record is created when an Ontarian calls police for help during a mental health crisis.  This type of information can later be disclosed on police record or “background” checks which are often used as a condition for employment, volunteer, educational, housing or cross border travel.  Five years ago, a number of health, law and human rights experts, including CMHA Ontario, came together to create the Police Records Check Coalition.  This coalition has engaged in advocacy to increase awareness about this important issue with the goal of changing policy and practice.

In a second blog, Sheela Subramanian, also a CMHA Ontario policy analyst, explores what accessibility and disability accommodation mean in the mental health context and shares information about a new mental health web-based resource called Think Outside the Box.  While it’s often assumed that people with disabilities are hyper visible, many disabilities, including mental health disabilities, are often invisible.  The same is true for effective mental health accessibility or accommodation practices.  In fact, Subramanian notes, we need to think outside the box when it comes to mental health.  It’s not about building ramps or widening doorways, it’s about innovation and inclusion.  The Think Outside the Box project, currently under development, is a web-based resource to share promising practices, resources, information and success stories about mental health accessibility and accommodation.

To read both blogs and read more about both issues, please visit the LAO Mental Health Strategy website and visit the updates section.

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