Additional Foundational Initiatives
The MHCC provides national and global leadership to stimulate discussion and policy development aimed to improve the lives of those living with mental health problems or illnesses.
We are proud of our work that will now be continued until 2027 as a result of the extension of our mandate by the Government of Canada. We look forward to continuing our work with all governments, as well with non-government stakeholders, to fulfil our mandate.
The Mental Health Strategy for Canada recommends increasing the use of e-Mental health to reach more people in Canada who are in need of help. With the growing need for mental health services and resources across the country, a major challenge is to improve access to services and to manage the substantial economic cost. E-Mental health could help fill this gap in a cost-effective way. The MHCC is bringing together experts in the field to create a clear direction for current and future applications of e-Mental health.
It is the norm to use technology to detect, screen, or treat illnesses in Canada. However, technology is not widely used in mental healthcare. E-Mental health uses the internet and related technologies to deliver or enhance mental health services and information, while supporting and enhancing care as it is currently provided. In some instances, with specific illnesses, e-Mental health services are proving to be often as effective as face-to-face services. Technology is already being used in Canada for online screening and the treatment of behavioural issues.
Numerous examples exist and illustrate how e-Mental health can offer services that are tailored to the individual – across time zones, in rural and remote locations, matched for language and cultural considerations, and tuned to personal habits and genetics. Literature suggests consumers would welcome more access to, or ownership of, their health information. Providing such information about their health and their care can make them more knowledgeable and better able to articulate their needs.
In rural and remote areas and inner city neighbourhoods, the time between when symptoms begin and when professional help is provided can be far too long. E-Mental health can shorten that gap, allowing care providers to reach out and offer information and online support services on a when, where, and how basis. E-Mental health can also support the healthcare workforce with improved efficiencies.
The MHCC, in collaboration with experts and stakeholders, has developed a briefing paper entitled E-Mental Health in Canada: Transforming the Mental Health System Using Technology. Published 2104, this paper provides a comprehensive definition and scope of technologies, outlines some key strengths, highlights successful programs and services in Canada and abroad, and presents recommendations to inform e-Mental health’s current and future use.
The focused support, development, and implementation of e-Mental health in Canada could be a significant step toward transforming and improving the mental health system. Now is the time to make progress in e-Mental health, given that nearly 80% of people living in Canada use the Internet on an almost daily basis.
First Nations, Inuit and Métis
The Mental Health Strategy for Canada (the Strategy) highlights that a broad range of legislation and policies aimed at assimilation have contributed to high rates of mental health problems and illnesses, addictions, and suicide among First Nations, Inuit, and Métis (FN-I-M). The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) qualified attempts to assimilate Indigenous peoples in Canada as “tantamount to cultural genocide”. While First Nations, Inuit, and Métis nations and communities may face shared challenges, important differences in culture and history must be honoured.
The MHCC is committed to a journey of learning and reconciliation. The TRC has placed respectful relationships at the centre of meaningful reconciliation. Following a meeting with TRC Chief Commissioner Mr. Justice Murray Sinclair, the MHCC is committed to:
- developing a response to the TRC’s Calls to Action;
- evaluating existing processes of engagement; and,
- build respectful nation to nation relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis.
Strong relationships of trust and mutual respect between the MHCC and FN-I-M governments, organizations, professionals, scholars, and communities will enable the MHCC to serve as an ally in supporting on-going efforts by First Nations, Inuit and Métis to heal from the intergenerational impacts of colonization, close gaps in services, share knowledge about approaches to mental wellness, increase community capacity, and strengthen collaborative relationships.
The MHCC, in partnership with First Nations and Inuit organizations, has developed adaptations of Mental Health First Aid training specific to the unique needs and cultures of First Nations and Inuit communities. In addition, the MHCC worked closely in the development of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy.
The MHCC recognizes that the Métis people have not yet engaged in the process of reconciliation, and we are committed to working alongside the Métis National Council as the process unfolds.
Mental Health First Aid
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Just as physical first aid is administered to an injured person before medical treatment can be obtained, MHFA is given until appropriate treatment is found or until the crisis is resolved.
MHFA aims to improve mental health literacy and provide the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems and illnesses in themselves, a family member, a friend or a colleague.
Anyone can benefit from MHFA, and at year end approximately 180,000 individuals have received MHFA training. From psychological health and safety in the workplace to schools and community groups to people in Northern Canada, MHFA has had a positive and long-lasting impact on people in Canada from coast to coast to coast.
Examples of groups who have taken MHFA:
- Families affected by mental health problems and illnesses;
- Secondary and post-secondary instructors, counsellors, and administrators;
- Healthcare service providers;
- Corporate management;
- Emergency workers including fire, ambulance, and police services;
- Frontline workers who deal with the public;
- Human resources professionals;
- Employers and managers; and,
- Community groups including new immigrants, homelessness advocates, and chronic disability support services.
The MHCC has created MHFA courses to take into account special needs and unique situations. To date, MHFA Canada has collaborated with stakeholders to develop adaptations for:
- Northern and Remote Living;
- Veterans; and,
The MHCC is working alongside Indigenous peoples to develop culturally appropriate programs that support the mental wellness of First Nations and Inuit communities.
Collaboration and engagement, both domestic or international, are important elements in the fulfilment of the MHCC’s mandate to act as a catalyst for improving the mental health system in Canada and changing the attitudes and behaviours of around mental health issues. Through its program of outreach and consultation, the MHCC brings together leaders and organizations from across the country to accelerate change.
This past year has seen a continuation and expansion of the collaboration across the wide spectrum of activity carried out by the MHCC. Domestically, we have been working with:
- approximately 250 partner organizations;
- all elements of the first responder community, police, firefighters, paramedics and more, to reduce stigma and increase resilience;
- First Nations, Inuit and Métis community members and leadership on suicide prevention;
- young people across the country to reduce stigma, help them build their lives and manage the difficult transition to adulthood;
- parliamentarians, at the federal, provincial and territorial levels, to engage and involve them in our mission; and,
- both corporate leadership and the labour movement to help create healthier, more understanding workplaces.
Communicating through traditional news media has long been a staple of our outreach and education efforts. Over the last year we strengthened this aspect of our work through the building of relationships with journalists, contribution of articles for magazines and periodicals, and, expansion of efforts to promote opportunities with the news media.
We have also enhanced our efforts with respect to digital and social media to reach audiences, in particular younger persons, who no longer rely on traditional communications channels such as newspapers, radio and television. These efforts have created much greater visibility for the MHCC, while, more importantly, significantly increasing the awareness of mental health problems and illnesses and with supports and solutions for managing.
The profile of the MHCC has been raised through the organization and promotion of conferences on prescient issues related to mental health. Over the course of the 2015/15 fiscal year, the MHCC organized and hosted:
- in September 2015, the International Initiative for Mental Combined Meeting Health Leadership, a unique international forum held in Vancouver, giving over 300 international mental health and addiction leaders the opportunity to examine research and best practices across a variety of themes: leading for the future, wellness, innovation, system transformation and change management;
- in early November 2015, the MHCC brought together 200 delegates and special guests to participate in the Consensus Conference on the Mental Health of Emerging Adults: Making Transitions a Priority in Canada which fully explored many of the factors that affect the mental health of emerging adults and scrutinized how health and social systems can work together to better support their overall mental well-being; and,
- in late November 2015, the MHCC hosted Canada’s first Social Business Forum to raise awareness about the important role that social businesses paly within the broader community, bringing together organizations and entrepreneurs who work to promote the employment of people with lived experience of mental problems and illnesses.
Internationally, the Mental Health Commission has continued to show leadership on a variety of fronts. This international engagement allows for the enhancement of: knowledge exchange of best practices, learning from conversation with international experts, the professional credibility for people living and working in Canada, and to stimulate enthusiasm and momentum in Canada.
The MHCC has also been working with the World Health Organization on the adaptation of the successful #308Conversations suicide prevention community engagement programme. This adaptation is being enhanced with developing countries in mind, where the leadership of the community engagement may come from sources other than elected parliamentarians.
To try to reduce the impacts of suicide in Canada, the MHCC developed a “Made in Canada” National Suicide Prevention Demonstration Project. This initiative is based on proven programs in Québec and internationally which have shown significant reductions (20% in two years) in suicide rates.
This research demonstration project builds on community expertise to implement and test proven suicide prevention interventions in 13 communities across Canada.
The goals of the project are to develop an evidence base, including best practices and suicide prevention guidelines and tools to support implementation of suicide prevention activities across Canada.
We will draw heavily on best practices in suicide prevention from across the globe as well as here at home. It will also involve Canadian experts and leaders from all regions of the country as well as from First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. There is broad stakeholder support for undertaking a Canadian community-based suicide prevention initiative of this kind which will also support the Federal Framework on Suicide Prevention.
The 13 communities are to be selected based on community submissions assessed against stated criteria including population size, geographic region, and populations at high risk such as:
- First Nations, Inuit and Métis;
- First responders, military members and veterans;
- Middle-aged men; and,
- Incarcerated persons.
In addition, the MHCC is supporting the development of several new suicide prevention training programs, which are targeted to meet the needs of police services and family physicians, as well as the public at large.
The MHCC is providing financial support for the module development, translation, promotion and use. The English version of the modules will be launched in early summer, and the French will follow in the fall.
The suicide prevention training for police will be delivered across Canada via an online learning module. The goal is to increase the capacity of police officers to assess, intervene and follow-up with their peers and other first responders. Topics will include suicide awareness, risk assessment, suicide prevention and the supervisor’s role in supporting staff.
The MHCC is supporting the Canadian Police Knowledge Network (CPKN) and its partners, York Regional Police and Motorola Solutions Foundation, by advising on content, reviewing training materials and facilitating the engagement of external experts (including the Tema Conter Memorial Trust, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention and the Mood Disorders Society of Canada).
“In a culture that can view itself as bulletproof, asking for help, or even acknowledging that you need it, is often viewed as a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s the bravest thing a person can do.” – Sgt. Beth Milliard, York Regional Police Peer Support Unit