Ontario Privacy Commissioner’s report welcome; further examination of mental health police records needed
(Monday, April 14, 2014) – Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario welcomes today’s report from the province’s Information and Privacy Commissioner as a good first step in the examination of the disclosure of mental health police records.
“Crossing the Line: The Indiscriminate Disclosure of Attempted Suicide Information to U.S. Border Officials via CPIC,” is a thorough examination of the issue of disclosure of suicide attempts in police records.
However, CMHA Ontario feels further study is needed about the disclosure of mental health police records related to suicide or other interactions with police.
“The Commissioner’s report highlights significant grey areas in terms of how different police services across the province submit mental health police records to the Canadian Police Information Centre database,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO CMHA Ontario. “Standardizing the protocol for disclosure would be welcome and we look forward to ongoing dialogue with the Commissioner, Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and national mental health partners such as the Mental Health Commission of Canada to further address this aspect of this issue.”
Further investigation is also needed to determine what the Canadian Police Information Centre database considerations are for the full range of police interactions with people with mental health issues.
There are different types of interactions outside of suicide attempts that occur between the police and individuals living with mental health issues. For example, police officers are often the first to arrive at the scene of a mental health crisis and often accompany an individual in crisis to the hospital emergency department or other health care facility for medical assessment.
“Mental health police records are not criminal records and should not be treated as such,” said Quenneville. “The disclosure becomes discriminatory and increases the stigma around mental health when the information is shared in a manner that doesn’t directly help an individual but instead creates barriers for that person.”
CMHA Ontario has been examining the disclosure of mental health police records for several years through its work as a Co-Chair of the Police Records Check Coalition, a group of more than 30 individuals and organizations comprising health law and human rights legal experts and representatives from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Ontario Association of Patient Councils, the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario and the John Howard Society of Ontario.
CMHA Ontario, was pleased to contribute to the Commissioner’s report.
About CMHA Ontario:
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) works toward a single mission: to make mental health possible for all. The vision of CMHA Ontario is a society that believes mental health is the key to well-being. CMHA Ontario works closely with 31 local branches in communities across the province to ensure the quality delivery of services to approximately 50,000 individuals each year in the areas of mental health, addictions, dual diagnosis and concurrent disorders which occur across the lifespan. Through policy analysis and implementation, agenda setting, research, evaluation and knowledge exchange, we work to improve the lives of people with mental health and addictions conditions and their families.
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