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CMHA Ontario Applauds the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police for their Commitment to Protecting the Privacy of Individuals with Mental Health Conditions

July 25, 2011

(TORONTO, July 25, 2011) – Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario applauds the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) for their commitment to protecting the privacy of individuals with mental health conditions through the development of their new provincial guideline for conducting police records checks.

At present, when an individual with a mental health condition is detained and apprehended by police under the Mental Health Act, an occurrence is automatically generated with their local police services. And, in turn, a non-criminal police record is created. This record is generated even if the individual is merely being escorted to the hospital or emergency room by police, thus creating an unnecessary listing of the individual’s interactions with the mental health system. This type of mental health police record contributes to the stigma of mental illness, and often leads to discrimination against individuals with mental health conditions when they are required to obtain a spotless police records check or a vulnerable sector screening for the purpose of working or volunteering with a vulnerable population.

OACP’s new Guideline for Police Record Checks prohibits the disclosure of such non-criminal mental health information. “This new guideline is a tremendous step forward for Ontarians,” says Lorne Zon, CEO, CMHA, Ontario. “Together, with our partners on the Police Records Check Coalition, we have been advocating for this issue for many years. We applaud the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police for moving forward with this important issue.”

The Police Records Check Coalition, which is co-chaired by CMHA Ontario, the Ontario Association of Patient Councils and the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office, is a collaborative initiative of over 30 member organizations and individuals. CMHA Ontario and the Coalition has been steadily advocating for systemic change in the area of mental health police records to ensure that all individuals who have contact with the police pursuant to the Mental Health Act are treated as equal members of the community.

“Through this new provincial guideline, the OACP has taken measures to ensuring confidentiality and protecting the right to privacy for Ontarians with mental health conditions,” says Zon. “The next step is for all police services across Ontario to adopt and implement this guideline to ensure that police record checks are being conducted uniformly across the province.”

About CMHA, Ontario

Founded in 1952, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario, is a non-profit, charitable organization committed to improving the lives of people with mental illness and their families, and to the promotion of mental health for all Ontarians. CMHA, Ontario achieves its mission through public education, applied research and policy analysis, and advocating for healthy public policy and an effective and efficient health system. Ontario’s 33 local CMHA branches provide direct services and supports to communities across the province. Learn more at www.ontario.cmha.ca.

*For further information about the Police Records Check Coalition, please visit www.sse.gov.on.ca

For further information, please contact:
Kismet Baun, Director of Communications
CMHA Ontario
Toronto (416) 977-5580, ext. 4141
kbaun@ontario.cmha.ca
www.ontario.cmha.ca

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