Increasing participation and involvement of people living with mental illness within the CMHA has been a priority for over 20 years. In 1987 a motion was passed by the National Board of Directors to establish an advisory committee with the goal of providing a consumer perspective to the Canadian Mental Health Association. The Consumer Participation Task Group (CPTG) was formed in 1987 for the purpose of increasing the involvement of mental health services consumers/persons with lived experience in planning and decision-making within society, and to look at consumer participation within the CMHA. The CPTG evolved into the Consumer Participation Advisory Committee in 1991 and eventually became the National Consumer Advisory Council (NCAC) now the National Council of Persons with Lived Experience (NCPLE).
The original composition of the committee was Consumers/Persons with Lived Experience of mental health issues, Families, Mental Health Service Providers, Generic Community Groups and Organizations, with a majority of consumers. In 1998, the NCAC became all-consumer.
Over the years, the NCPLE has been instrumental in providing policy leadership regarding consumers/persons with lived experience participation within the Association. It has brought the consumer perspective to all of the issues and concerns on the CMHA’s agenda. Some of the accomplishments of the NCPLE are:
- Developed the discussion paper Power, Paternalism and Partnerships, 2006
- Lead in the development of three resource packages on consumer participation for information sharing on strategies across CMHA
- Established the Consumer Involvement Award in 1990
- Produced the Consumer Participation Celebration Package, a history of consumer participation within CMHA in honour of CMHA’s 75th anniversary, 1992
- Provided input on policy statements on consumer involvement, 1992, and consumer volunteers, 1998
- Assisted with encouraging nominations of consumers to the National Board of Directors
- Lead a survey on the status of consumer participation within CMHA 1998
- The NCAC hosted an “Emerging Issues Forum” at the National Conference in Edmonton in September 2005.
In 2013, after an extensive scan of consumers and mental health organizations across the country, the National Consumer Advisory Council (NCAC) changed its name to the National Council of Persons with Lived Experience (NCPLE). Conference calls and surveys took place to see if a change in name and term was in order to become more inclusive of a broader population of persons with lived experience of mental health issues. The CMHA and the NCPLE had heard time and again over the years that the term ‘consumer’ was disliked. The outcome of the exercise led to the change in term. This term is more inclusive of persons at various stages of wellness and/or those just looking at a holistic approach to mental health.
The NCPLE holds a seat on the Executive Committee of the CMHA Board of Directors.
The Council currently has members from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. The NCPLE strives to increase its membership in order to be more nationally representative. To find out more about the NCPLE, or to apply to be a council member please contact Julie Flatt , Staff.