On March 1, CMHA Ontario will join people around the world to celebrate Zero Discrimination Day. Led by the United Nations, Zero Discrimination Day is an annual campaign which aims to celebrate diversity and reject discrimination in all its forms. This year’s theme, Make Some Noise, encourages individuals and communities to raise their voice to end discrimination.
CMHA recognizes that stigma and discrimination is a reality for many people with a mental illness. CMHA Ontario offers a number of resources for equity in mental health, including Think Outside the Box, an online tool for mental health accessibility. CMHA Ontario also recently released a tip sheet on how the Health Equity Impact Assessment (HEIA) tool can be applied to consider equity issues related to serving clients with mental health and addiction issues.
Whereas stigma is a negative stereotype, discrimination is the behaviour that results from this negative stereotype. Often, individuals with a mental illness are faced with multiple, intersecting layers of discrimination as a result of their mental illness and their identity. For example, a woman with a mental illness may experience discrimination due to sexism as well as her illness, and a racialized individual may experience discrimination due to racism in addition to their mental illness. In addition, living with discrimination can have a negative impact on mental health.
Members of the public are encouraged to participate in the campaign by sharing drawings, pictures, gifs, audio and video with the hashtag #zerodiscrimination on social media.
The annual campaign has chosen the butterfly as its official symbol, in recognition that achieving zero discrimination is a transformative process.