Optimistic on strategy

At least one local group is happy with the recently announced national mental health strategy.

Carol Richardson, executive director of Parksville’s Forward House, is “guardedly optimistic” that the “remarkably respectful and inclusive document” will eventually help community services like theirs which provides mental health and addictions recovery services.

The strategy, funded by Health Canada through the Mental Health Commission, called Changing Directions, Changing Lives says years of underfunding and poorly coordinated government policies need an overhaul.

“The salient point of any discussion of the document is that it exists,” Richardson said, “Canada has its first national mental health strategy.”

She said she is hopeful that the strategy points to a paradigm shift in focus from reactive illness care to proactive and preventive care and recovery.

She said the strategy recognizes the multi-dimensionality of health and addresses a wide range of things including education and supports and treatment for issues of both physical and mental health.

She is also optimistic that since the government funded the report they may actually come up with some of the $4 billion in funding it calls for, which she hopes will help front line community organizations.

The strategy divides priorities and recommendations into six strategic areas that cover mental health prevention and promotion, access to services, upholding the rights of people with mental illness, addressing the needs of specific populations and improving collaboration.

Among the more than 100 recommendations, Richardson was pleased to see that it calls for “the inclusion of those with mental health issues in the development and delivery of services.”

“The document articulates compelling concern for humanity and inclusion, and Forward House is pleased to note that many of our activities and practices predict the strategy, which no less drives us to continue to improve and appropriately expand our role in community,” she said.

She points out that in 2004 they were the first small, non-profit society in the province to be recognized by the B.C. Psychological Association as a mentally healthy workplace.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority could not be reached for comment on how or if the strategy might affect their local services.

For more on Forward House check


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