Notes from Mental Health Community Update

May 23, 2018


Mental health community town hall-May 15, 2018 Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School

75 in attendance

Panel included: Chief DeRuyter- Guelph Police, Marty Williams-Downtown Business Association, Raechelle Devereaux-Guelph Community Health, Lloyd Longfield-Member of Parliament

  • Government of Canada

Lloyd Longfield welcomed members of the community working on mental health in the room, as well as other interested people touched directly or indirectly by mental health issues.

There has been progress since the mental health community town hall last year, with expanded services through the WWLHIN and CMHA, with more work to do.  Recently we hosted a roundtable in Ottawa with national stakeholders in conjunction with the Mental Health Commission of Canada on suicide prevention and the connections between mental health and addictions.

Many groups are collaborating around improving mental health outcomes in Guelph, with the goal to wrap community services around those who need help and not abandon them. Included in this is an emerging focus on the downtown, making downtown Guelph a safe and inclusive Business and Community Improvement Area. 

  • Guelph Police Services

Chief de Ruyter talked to the fact that calls for the police has increased dramatically for mental health issues now, they had 312 attempted suicides in 2017, 2300 calls to check on wellbeing, many calls are placing a great demand on their team but the integrated crisis team is making a great difference

Mental health professionals are now part of the police team, working with four members of the local Canadian Mental Health Association participating on the IMPACT team to assist Guelph Police Services on calls relating to mental health issues.

1200 individuals have been served, 85% calls were able to be diverted from the emergency department

Have had 4000 face to face contacts with our citizens

The mental health professionals working with the police have resulted in a great decrease in apprehensions at the hospital and have reduced the stigma of an arrest as well

This has been one of the greatest initiatives in the police department and the great partnerships have helped to create a safer community, and improve outcomes for people facing mental health challenges.

  • Downtown Guelph Business Association

Marty Williams, Executive Director of the Downtown Guelph Business Association noted that the downtown business area is new to working on this issue, their focus has been around investment in the public spaces, but they are now looking at social structure for business owners and how can they invest in community improvement as well as business improvement.  A model has been developed in Toronto to assist business or property owners in knowing how to support people facing mental health issues.

They are working to build a safe and inclusive downtown area, as an organization they are interested in more than just making the businesses successful, but also to help the shop keepers be aware of the services available for those in crisis in the public realm.

They are not looking for solutions to sweep this crisis under the rug but are looking to end poverty and help those in crisis get the help they need to not be on the streets.  How do we engage like we now have done with work on accessibility issues and overcome those concerns.

In downtown Kitchener they have done a great job to put peer workers on the streets to make the connections with social services agencies, police etc. and have reduced their calls dramatically to the police as a result

  • Guelph Community Health Centre

Raechelle Devereaux, Executive Director of GCHC, is the delivery agent for a number of community services.  The GCHC delivers services from their downtown location, the Shelldale Centre, EarlyON services at Stone Road Mall and also delivers programing in 9 neighbourhoods.  Community Health Centres deliver care and aim to reduce barriers to delivery of the health care services people need, including mental health.  The GCHC works on helping those who are having barriers such as new Canadians, Indigenous community, LGBTQ community and vulnerable children and their families.

In a recent report, 23% people surveyed reported high levels of stress in 2016 while 44% of 10-14 year olds reported that they had too many problems. Mental health can be periodic, life long or episodic that follows a major life event.

We know that mental health has a significant impact on people’s physical health.  If you are poor you are more likely to be affected by mental health: many factors can affect such as schooling/education can affect employability etc.  Attaining housing can be nearly impossible for those who suffer from significant mental health issues and are homeless.  In a New Mexico study, those struggling with complex issue, were found to be dying from diabetes and health issues (those with concurrent issues such as mental health and drug addiction)

We need to create hope to those suffering and a better system for more timely accessible services. The GCHC and its partners are now testing services that include primary health care providers and psychiatrist working together in the same office, this is designed to create concurrent better overall care

Unique teams are happening in the form of Specialized Outreach Services to get individuals the care they need, including treatment and primary care connections and helping with basics such as ID paperwork

In Guelph we are also starting back at the beginning.  Last year and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) call to action took place, raising the awareness of the need to work collaboratively to prevent and mitigate Adverse Childhood Experiences

Since that event, Public health has designed a survey to better understand the incidence of ACE’s in our community, and we have also obtained funding to bring wrap around care to families who are struggling through the Parent Outreach Worker program.

Volunteers, schools and primary care providers in neighbourhoods are working in collaboration to provide earlier intervention around students and families who are struggling

The true measure of any society is how we treat our most vulnerable

The health minister worked hard to get money to just mental health and not just health care in general in each province

Questions from the audience: comment on measures, that youth and incidents in the school system such as temper issues in schools that dramatically affect other children in the classroom, should be captured

Mental health literally affects anyone with a mind and the wrap around services are so important

There is a great deal of growth going on in the medical field, and need to increase the work for primary care givers in training aspect

Need to do more work on helping those who feel they are ready to come off medication, and need to go through side effects more thoroughly with patients

The mental health first aid program has made a huge difference in the downtown business community

We have the interventions but we are lacking on the reintegration, HOPE House is just one organization working through this to help provide the skills to get back to work etc.

Group of psychologists-they do know a fair bit of what works, early intervention is key and not near enough services for adults and not anywhere near the amount needed for children.  There are a great number of community professionals who can all work together to help with full service models

What about the barriers that are not measurable, like shame that is a bridge to getting services

School board mental health – we are lucky in Ontario as there is a mental health and addictions worker in the schools who have great partnerships and are involved in the conversations (this has been going for about 6 years in schools)

We also need to look at the structural reasons as to why someone has mental health issues, such as poverty, affordable and supportive housing to help our most vulnerable housing

Lloyd talked about the government’s affordable housing strategy and that the city is putting it into their plan

Poverty elimination task force has been working with Lloyd to keep us informed

How do the police deal with mental health issues in a record format-such as used as a non-criminal occurrence.  It has been highlighted as an issue for police and the Guelph police do not release this as an occurrence. 

Who do you talk to if you are not in immediate crisis, how do we help those who are not in critical need.  We can help to reduce crisis with help and intervention earlier

Thanks to Lloyd for work he is doing in the community.  ****How are employers being incentivized to enroll employees in programs for EAP programs? How do we incentivize employers to help those who are re-engaging in the community?  Open Minds offers great local mental health first aid

Lloyd noted that government needs to do better to engage employers to take mental health first aid and that it is available at no cost

Skilled trades bring vocational skills back to kids who are not the ones who like to work on the book side of education but want to work with their hands-encouraged Lloyd to push the skilled trades

The member of the audience from the catholic school board talked about the great work that is happening within the community to triage the kids, they are processes that take a long time, there are  concerns that the board and CMHA can only do so much and we need to put the money into the kids first

Question about outreach to students-Chief noted that there are high school resource officers in all high schools and outreach to grade 6 students for drug prevention and respectful classrooms

Raechelle talked about the Rapid Access Addiction Clinic and how it works and noted that there are also addiction counsellors in all area high schools

We currently have the highest cannabis use in the developed world, working on cannabis legislation and educational programs will be rolled out in conjunction also

Employer would love to include mental health as part of his safety talk-what package could he send home with his employees***

Trauma counsellor talked about the fact that other countries treat mental health as an overall health issue and plan

HST on psychotherapist is an issue, Lloyd noted it is under review now

Federal government has rolled out money but now need to work with the provinces to get the right programs in place

One of the biggest gaps we have is the wealth of services that are not being accessed (some in poverty, for some self medication is a necessity to stay alive on the streets, need more low barrier service outreach workers)

Police chief noted that de-escalation services will continue to be rolled out in police forces, they can always do better in the most difficult situations

Lloyd thanked those who are service providers who are working in the community and encouraged people to submit questions and comments to clarify anything discussed at the meeting.

We will continue to work with many partners and the provinces and business community to keep the conversation going and remove the stigma.