CMHA Ontario has instituted strategic planning and CMHA Niagara will be sending two Board members and two senior staff for contribution to the discussion. We know the facts: 30% of the Ontario population aged 15 or over will experience a mental health or substance abuse problem at some point in their life and this will cost the Ontario economy an estimated $38.1B per year in health costs, law enforcement costs, research and prevention and other direct costs such as fires and accidents. We also know that 8.1 per 100,000 people die from suicide in Ontario and its worse (9) in Niagara. In children and youth, mental health problems are predicted to increase by 50% by 2020.  We also know that there is great wave of public support for mental health and addictions.

So what are some of the issues that CMHA Niagara will be taking to CMHA Ontario?

  • CMHA Ontario is recognized for its policy and advocacy work. However, translating that work into everyday language that demonstrates impact on services for those in need has to be made clear.
  • CMHA is a known brand but often gets confused with CAMH and a myriad of other services that have similar initials. It needs to distinguish itself even more, to maintain its presence and relevance in the mind of Ontarians.
  • System integration is a key buzzword these days. It’s a reaction to the confusing plethora of agencies out there, making it challenging for people to access appropriate services. CMHA Ontario is a team player and has clarify its position as systems integrator helping to simplify the landscape for people seeking help.
  • All services are not equal. Just because a service has been in operation for 20 years, does not mean that it is worth promoting. CMHA Ontario needs to develop standards of care and best practice that will assure Ontarians that all our Branches provide evidence based services.
  • Primary care integration is a key initiative of the province. It means that physicians and other health care provides will be a part of the planning and support for individuals with mental health and addictions. Considering that the people we support have as much as a 25 year shorter life span; the issue is critical. CMHA Ontario needs to focus on this priority for the next few years, until we get it right. Our clients deserve no less.

Now is the time to ride the wave of support and build a strategic plan for CMHA Ontario that will carry us forward into a better future for all citizens.