Message from the President and CEO

I am pleased to report on the operations of the Mental Health Commission of Canada over the 2015/16 fiscal year. This has been a year of great progress highlighted by the Government of Canada’s commitment to long-term funding for the MHCC. This will allow us to continue to build our momentum by proceeding with a number of significant initiatives that have contributed to a stable foundation for our next mandate.

In addition to our ongoing work, the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has brought greater attention to the mental health issues faced by First Nations, Inuit and Métis across the country. The MHCC is committed to a process of reconciliation and learning, which will position us to walk alongside communities who are leading efforts to address their mental wellness needs. Accordingly, we are taking measures to build cultural competence and are dedicating resources to sustained and meaningful engagement with First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

The ground breaking work that culminated in the release of The Mental Health Strategy for Canada: A Youth Perspective in May 2015, produced an adapted version of the original which includes examples of best practices that help bring to life many of the recommendations in the Strategy. Complementing the Youth Strategy, in November of 2015 the MHCC hosted the Consensus Conference on the Mental Health of Emerging Adults which generated an unprecedented dialogue on this long overlooked topic.

A crucial element of any foundational work is ensuring that we have the necessary information with which to move forward. In June 2015, we released the final report of Informing the Future: Mental Health Indicators for Canada which, for the first time, reported on key performance indicators that will stimulate conversations about mental health problems and illnesses. This report strengthens efforts to improve the mental health system and support mental wellness in Canada.

One of the MHCC’s ongoing success stories has been our leading edge work on mental wellness in the Workplace. The first of its kind in the world, the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace was launched in 2013 and has since been downloaded more than 31,000 times, with more than 6,000 taking place in the 2015/16 fiscal year alone. The Standard is being implemented by hundreds of leading corporations across Canada. We are very pleased that the federal government has made the commitment to operationalize the Standard across federal public service workplaces.

The recent completion of Advancing the Mental Health Strategy for Canada: A Framework for Action sets out a course to deliver on the recommendations of the Strategy. The Framework has been developed through in-depth consultations with stakeholders across all sectors in Canada, such as: community service providers; all levels of government; and those within the community of people with lived experience of mental health problems and illnesses.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada was created to act as a catalyst for improving the mental health system and changing the attitudes and behaviours around mental health issues. We continue to bring together leaders and organizations from across the country, and internationally, to accelerate these changes, as well as to raise the profile of issues related to mental health. The direction by the Prime Minister to his cabinet ministers that mental health must be a priority within their portfolios is tangible recognition of the enhanced profile of mental health within Canada’s government.

The MHCC continues to be active in promoting the importance of maintaining good mental health. This year we have been involved in active consultations with a wide variety of stakeholders. We have been involved in more than 250 conventions and conferences and our Chair and Executive Leadership Team have made speeches or presentations across Canada and internationally. These activities support our original mandate and contribute to the building of momentum towards our future.

Preparations for the next decade have included some tough choices. After maintaining offices in Calgary and Ottawa, in November 2015 we consolidated our operations in Ottawa to reduce costs and increase efficiency. This meant the loss of valued staff members who were not able to make the move. I want to thank them for their tremendous contributions to our mission and wish them well in their future endeavours.

I am tremendously proud of the MHCC’s record over the course of our first mandate. We have increased awareness and consideration of mental health issues within Canada, as well as having made important contributions on the international stage. The momentum that we have continued to build over the past year paves the way for a bright future and improvement in the lives of those affected by mental health issues.

We look forward to continuing to work in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, persons with lived experience of mental health problems and illnesses, as well as the multitude of other partners and stakeholders for whom we are so pleased to play a convenor role.

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