CMHA Oxford weighs in on police mental health records
There has been a lot of activity about the issue of police mental health records since the case of Ellen Richardson, a Canadian who was stopped at the U.S. border because of her mental health history, made headlines in late 2013.
Since then, the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner launched an investigation into the issue by consulting law enforcement, mental health professionals and mental health organizations including CMHA Ontario.
The Police Record Check Coalition invited its members to write to their local chiefs of police to express their support to end the disclosure of non-conviction information on police record checks.
In February 2014, the Police Record Check Coalition (PRCC) invited its members to write to their local chiefs of police to express their support to end the disclosure of non-conviction information on police record checks. Later that month, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) Executive approved a motion to change the way it shares non-conviction records.
On March 6, 2014, at least one local communities also weighed in on the issue. Janeen Donner, a crisis worker at CMHA Oxford Branch, said that the disclosure of mental health information as a result of an apprehension and hospital visit under the Mental Health Act has hurt her clients in the long run when it comes to them obtaining volunteer and employment opportunities. Donner also said that disclosing this type of information can lead to further stigmatization of individuals with mental health issues and could even impede the recovery of her clients.
Irina Sytcheva, Manager of Policy and Community Relations for the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario, and co-chair of the PRCC also weighed in on the recent OACP announcement stating that although the decision requires all police services to operate on the presumption against the release of non-conviction information, it is still up to each police service to implement this decision. CMHA Ontario is also a co-chair of the PRCC along with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Ontario Association of Patient Society of Ontario and the John Howard Society.
To view the full article resulting from these interviews, visit the Woodstock Sentinel Review website.