Following a two year consultation with a range of voluntary sector organizations from across Canada, the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Citizens for Mental Health project determined housing as a key determinant related to the mental health of every community. As such, it was concluded that to improve the mental health of all, governments must ensure access to safe, affordable and appropriate housing as individual circumstances necessitate.
The implications of a growing population of seniors and a growing home care sector are significant for health care policy generally, but also for mental health policy specifically. In the research conducted for this guide, key stakeholders across Canada were emphatic regarding the need for a holistic model of care – incorporating both medical and psychosocial supports – to meet the needs of seniors today and in the future. The research also demonstrated that there is considerable potential for home care to play a greater role in implementing such a model, and in doing so, support the mental health and well-being of seniors in Canada.
This 2001 position paper provides an analysis on why the issues of people with serious mental illness should be on the Federal income support agenda. It provides a thorough understanding of how current Federal income security programs operate in order to identify ways they might be improved so that people with serious mental illness can have access to adequate income and a decent quality of life. The policy recommendations put forward in this document are intended for use as advocacy tools, and may suggest opportunities for collaboration with other national disability groups.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) affirms the broad mandate encompassed by our mission, to promote the mental health of all people. CMHA is strengthened by the skills and experience, as well as by the uniqueness and individuality of all our volunteers; we celebrate differences. For a vibrant CMHA, our boards, committees, staff, and membership need to include diverse opinions, representing all four corners of the Framework for Support‘s Community Resource Base and supported not just philosophically, but with practical measures as well.
The Canadian Mental Health Association believes that people who may need mental health care deserve the full range of informed choices surrounding the best possible care. This includes the choice to reject treatment. Self-help options and informal personal supports may complement or supplant the full range of formal psychosocial and medical treatments, in accordance with the wishes of the individual. It cannot be assumed that medical treatment is the only or best option for individuals.
Canada has a long tradition of opening its doors to people from all over the world. Since the second world war, significant demographic changes have occurred in this country. Since the 1970’s, the Canadian immigrant population has shifted from mainly European immigration to people from Asia and Africa. The immigrants and refugees arriving in Canada face many barriers to an easy adjustment to Canadian society. The challenge of learning a new language and socio-economic and legal issues make the task of starting a new life in Canada a daunting one. As our population becomes more diverse, the services we provide have to be relevant and accessible to all the people in our community. In addition, as the population changes, the ways in which we provide services must also change. For instance, in order to provide good mental health services, the services need to become culturally sensitive and appropriate.
Since work is an essential part of participation in society, the loss of paid employment can have serious psychosocial, as well as economic, effects. In setting forth this policy statement, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) recognizes that access to meaningful paid employment is a basic human right. In a fair and equitable nation, social justice demands government standards which promote full employment and programs which assist those who are unemployed.
Violence is not somebody else’s problem, it is everyone’s. Violence permeates Canadian society, in the home, in the workplace, in sport, in schools, in religious institutions, and in the media. Each of us must take responsibility for the values, beliefs and institutions in our society that permit violence to happen. Individually and collectively, we must begin to eradicate violence in our society through public education and awareness, through a shift in power relationships, and through law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Power differential is a major factor in violence, and there are many groups and individuals who suffer from an imbalance of power. Women and children are two particularly vulnerable groups in society and therefore the primary victims of violence.
A home is the base from which we have the security to build our lives as we choose. We should be able to choose where to live, whom to see, and how to behave in our home. In our home we should have the privacy to reflect and relax in peace. We should have the autonomy to decorate and maintain our home as we see fit. Our home is the focus of our social network. These are all arguably essential prerequisites of mental health and well-being. They should be seen as necessary components of housing programs, not as privileges to which people “graduate.” Security, choice autonomy, financial self-sufficiency, privacy, and control are all part of the healing process. They should never be denied people, except at times of extreme risk to self or others.
Within CMHA, “consumers” have been defined as “people with direct experience of significant mental health problems who have used the resources available from the mental health system.” Many persons who volunteer or work in the CMHA or mental health system and the community have suffered from mental illness. However, for a variety of reasons, people may choose not to identify themselves as consumers; usually consumer participation means the inclusion of people who choose to identify themselves as consumer of mental health services. This self-identification is part of the empowerment of people who have often been left out of decision-making.