On March 26, the Community of Interest (COI) for Racialized Populations and Mental Health and Addictions held a think tank to explore mental health and/or addictions-related emergency department (ED) use by racialized populations in Ontario. This event brought together 100 participants from across Ontario, including representatives from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), Local Health Integration Networks, hospitals, community-based mental health and addictions agencies, research institutes, the policing and first responders sector, and people with lived experience of mental health and/or addictions issues and racialization. During the morning, presenters provided context and content for the afternoon’s discussions. Co-moderators Sheela Subramanian (COI lead, and Planning and Policy Analyst, Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario) and Aseefa Sarang (Executive Director, Across Boundaries) set the day’s tone by explaining the purpose of the event: to promote dialogue and knowledge exchange between key stakeholders and collectively, to more clearly define the issues at hand.
Anne Bowlby (Manager, Mental Health and Addictions Unit, MOHLTC) provided the morning keynote address about the MOHLTC’s policy priorities in the areas of mental health and addictions, emergency department use and health equity for racialized and other marginalized populations.
The keynote was followed by a plenary session. Panelists included:
- Deqa Farah (Community Resource Connections of Toronto) sharing findings from the COI’s consultations with community mental health providers and people with lived experience;
- Uppala Chandrasekera (Planning and Policy Analyst, CMHA Ontario) who spoke about challenges and opportunities related to policing and the ED, and highlighted examples of specific protocols across the province;
- Frank Fournier (Community Support Worker, St. Michael’s Hospital) who spoke about the value, opportunities and challenges of peer support for marginalized communities in the ED, drawing on his expertise working in a busy urban ED; and
- Notisha Massaquoi (Executive Director, Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre) presenting a promising practice of a shared care model that has expanded access to mental health services for their racialized women clients.
During the afternoon, facilitated discussion groups engaged participants in dialogue in four key areas: the social determinants of health and looking beyond the health sector; the provincial health system; community and hospital collaboration; and ED dynamics themselves. The discussion was followed by the afternoon keynote speaker, Camille Orridge (CEO, Toronto Central LHIN) who identified key opportunities, such as Health Links and key challenges, such as data gaps and the need for consistent cultural competency in service delivery for advancing mental health equity for racialized populations through local health planning.
The session was live streamed (broadcast live online) simultaneously so that people across the province could participate in the discussions. Podcasts of all the sessions as well as presentation materials are now available online. A graphic recorder also captured the day’s discussion through art.
You can view the slides for all of the think tank sessions by going to the Racialized Populations and Mental Health and Addictions Community of Interest website.
The webinar was recorded and can also be viewed on the COI website.