Five-point mental health plan pushes standardized care

CMHA BC launches five-point mental health and addiction plan

Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen

The Canadian Mental Health Association BC calls for creation of a standardized, compassionate and evidence-based system of care for people living with addictions problems.

Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen signed their manifesto Monday, as the CMHA BC launched its five-point mental health and addictions care manifesto in Oak Bay. Nov. 13 to 19 is National Addictions Awareness Week.

“It has only been in the last number of years I think that we’ve actually seen people recognizing mental illness for what it really is, it is a medical issue. It’s not as visible as a broken leg, but it has the same, if not more, impact on our community,” Jensen said. “It will become clear this is a blueprint for change and a blueprint for moving forward. This is something that is region-wide, it isn’t just Victoria and it isn’t just Oak Bay.”

The five-point plan calls for: focusing on prevention and early intervention; building access to addictions health care; strengthening recovery closer to home, in the community; improving crisis care; and leading change in mental health and addictions.

As part of its year-long b4stage4 campaign, the manifesto lays out a set of concrete and practical actions to improve the lives of people living with mental health and addictions problems.

The launch is a call to action for Greater Victoria to endorse CMHA’s recommendations for mental health and physical health to be valued equally.

“It touches all of the communities. We have 13 mayors here, we’re all going to be gathering as part of the Nov. 28 to 30 conference and I think we all recognize the need for action because it touches all of our communities,” Jensen said. “In some communities perhaps it’s more visible, particularly where we have a significant amount of homeless people, but it happens in the affluent areas too. Certainly as mayor I’ve come to know people who are in the throws of addiction in our neighbourhoods. They’re not as visible as they would be in other communities, but the problem is there and it is something that this manifesto … attempts to deal with.”

CMHA BC hosts a b4stage4 Conference in Victoria from Nov. 28 to 30 to explore ways in which the system can be improved. Shoppers Drug Mart, Canada’s largest pharmacy chain, lent support to the campaign as sponsor of the conference, which features experts and those who have lived experience of mental health and addiction issues.

“As health care professionals we take the health of Canadians very seriously,” said Omar Alasaly, pharmacist and pharmacy owner, Shoppers Drug Mart.

“In my own community pharmacies here in Victoria my staff and I see first-hand the impact of mental health and addictions. We see the effect it has on patients lives and their families. I’m very passionate about raising awareness about mental heath and addictions.

“As a pharmacist myself I see the focus and prevention available for diabetes and heart disease and cancer and other health addictions. Unfortunately the stigma and the shame of mental health and addictions is real and it’s something we need to work together with different stakeholders to do something about.”

The manifesto is available to read and sign at www.b4stage4.ca online.