Mental Illness is not a Crime
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is deeply concerned by the recent deaths of individuals experiencing a mental health crisis across Canada stemming from interactions with the police. Each of these deaths is an unacceptable tragedy. We extend our condolences to the families, loved ones and communities mourning these deaths, and call on decision-makers to heed the urgent calls for truth, accountability and change.
These deaths are the most recent in what has been a terrible history of fatalities involving people in mental health crisis situations. Systemic racism, including anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, has gravely increased the risks associated with experiencing a mental health crisis.
These tragic deaths also have a history rooted in Canada’s long-standing inadequate investment in mental health. Care providers, service users and other advocates have long been united in calling attention to this. The absence of effective crisis care, and the default reliance on police officers in responding to a mental health or addictions related crisis, is the result of decades of systemic underfunding of mental health and substance use services across Canada.
Many persons with lived experience of mental illness or a mental health issue tell us they have experienced positive, life-saving care from well-trained and compassionate police officers in Canada. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Moreover, stigma and discrimination can keep those who have had a negative experience with police while in crisis from coming forward, or from being believed if they do lodge a complaint.
A properly funded mental health care system would not only allow us to better respond to mental health crises, but allow for earlier intervention and treatment to help prevent mental health crises in the first place. Experiencing a mental health crisis is not a crime, and the response must be a health-care response, not a law-enforcement response. A successful model may involve peer support specialists or rapid-response teams of mental health professionals either working alongside, embedded within—or instead of—the police. Whatever the model, the primary concern of first responders to emergencies involving a mental health crisis must be de-escalation and well-being.
Branches, regions and divisions of the CMHA federation and our community partners across Canada have on-the-ground experience with improving emergency first response to mental health crises, as well as deep policy expertise on solutions appropriate to their region, province or territory. We urge governments to:
- reach out to the leading voices of mental health advocacy and care in their jurisdiction;
- fully incorporate the voices of people with lived experience of mental health issues and illnesses in their decision-making for change;
- invest in community-level mental health care solutions to mental health crises; and
- acknowledge the role of colonialism and racism, particularly anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, in our systemic failure to deal safely with mental health crises.
Health emergencies require a health care response. We must all commit to doing more.
COVID 19 PANDEMIC – PSYCHO SOCIAL WELLNESS
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsJus1R15Ds&feature=youtu.be Recorded by psychiatrist, Dr. Eva Adriana Wilson.
What is CMHA NS’ plan?
As community mental health providers’ CMHAs in Nova Scotia are committed to keeping our communities, clients, and safe and our services supportive and welcoming.
CMHA NS is following the direction and recommendations of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia, Department of Health & Wellness.
CMHAs in Nova Scotia has/will:
- Actively support the calm and care of Nova Scotia in the mist of the pandemic crisis through the on-going provision of accurate information (virtual information HUBs, regular posting of social media updates, health and mental health information navigation and support, etc.)
- Actively support the health and mental health of staff and respect staffs’ need to work home as a social isolation measure or to support the care and wellness of children and aging family members
- Cancelled all education-training and awareness-sponsored community events for the foreseeable future
- Encourage pandemic hygiene care
- Engage in social distancing practices when delivering community-based non-clinical mental health & addictions services and supports
- Actively monitor and track the health status of its staff, clients and linked collaborative care community partners and groups (see tracking form)
- Provide non-clinical psycho-social emergency response support services to off-set the current demands placed on the formal health care system and emergency – first responders in Nova Scotia
- Explore and implement new and innovative methods for the provision of front-line services that will ensure the safety of our staff while providing welcoming client centric quality of life mental health services (housing, employment, food security, social connectivity, mental illness community outreach services and supports, and resilience based-programs) and community centric trauma informed psycho-social wellness supports and services in support of the Mental Health of All Nova Scotians.
Due to the constant evolving nature of COVID-19, CMHA NS engages Nova Scotians to regularly visit the Government of Nova Scotia’s Novel Coronavirus web page to access accurate and timely information and guidance for Nova Scotia individuals, businesses, and communities https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/
- For Alerts and Notices see: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/#alerts
- COVID-19 Testing and Data see: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/#cases
- When to seek help?, see: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/#help
- Travel Advise, see: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/#travel
- NS Government Response to COVID-19: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/#response
- Latest News: https://novascotia.ca/news/release/?id=20200315002
A message from the Mental Health Commission of Canada: Mental Health Commission of Canada – Help Flatten the COVID-19 curve
Temporary service and facility closure notices from Nova Scotia Health Authority: http://www.nshealth.ca/temporary-service-and-facility-closure-notices-nova-scotia-health-authority-updated-310-pm-march-16