As part of its continuing efforts to inform government stakeholders, representatives from CMHA Ontario recently held discussions with two government ministries important to its work: Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) and Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS).
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
On April 2, 2014, CMHA Ontario provided the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) an overview of the mental health issues in the province. More specifically, the discussion focused on housing and its broader impact on people with lived experience of mental health and addictions.
The discussion focused on housing and its broader impact on people with lived experience of mental health and addictions.
To begin, the presentation to MMAH’s Housing Policy Branch broadly outlined mental health issues and its impacts on health care, social services, productivity, and economic output. For example:
- Currently more than 6.7 million people in Canada are living with a mental health condition
- Nearly 30 percent of people aged 20-29 experience a mental illness in a given year
- The economic cost of mental health to Canada is at least $50 billion per year, which represents 2.8 percent of the country’s 2011 GDP
- Mental health-related cost to businesses in 2011 was $6 billion in lost productivity
CMHA Ontario also noted that an estimated 25 to 50 percent of people who are homeless live with a mental health condition, adding that the presence of adequate and affordable housing is a key element to both recovery and the maintenance of good mental health. Furthermore, housing with supports generates positive outcomes for individuals, including enhancing their life skills, improving their health, and providing an increased sense of empowerment and involvement in their community.
MMAH was told that local CMHA Branches, along with other housing-service providers, aim to provide a safe living accommodation coupled with adequate supports to help maintain people in the community. In the same spirit, the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s At Home/Chez Soi project is based on the “housing first” approach which provides people with housing along with support services tailored to meet their needs. CMHA Ontario said many important lessons are being learned from the At Home/Chez Soi project that will help future planning and policy development across the country.
At the conclusion of the presentation, MMAH staff asked a wide range of questions about a number of different areas related to mental health and housing. The feedback from the meeting was overwhelmingly positive and CMHA Ontario will endeavor to continue such conversations with government stakeholders in the future.
Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
Two days later, CMHA Ontario also presented to staff from MCSCS’s Private Security and Investigative Services Branch and the Policing Standards Section of the Public Safety Division. The presentation included an overview of the meaning of positive mental health and how life stressors and the social determinants of health impact an individual’s mental health.
Participants were engaged throughout the presentation and asked important questions about how police can better interact with individuals experiencing a mental health crisis and their families.
CMHA Ontario also discussed its partnership and work with the Provincial Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee (HSJCC) with a special focus on the report “Strategies for Implementing Effective Police-Emergency Department Protocols in Ontario.” The presentation concluded with a discussion on workplace mental health , operational stress injury and the new standard on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.
MCSCS participants were engaged throughout the presentation and asked important questions about how police can better interact with individuals experiencing a mental health crisis and their families, how to promote mental health in the workplace and how to plan for community safety in a collaborative way.
Coming up at the end of April, CMHA Ontario will be presenting to the Centre of Forensic Science which is also part of the ministry.