The Canadian Mental Health Association believes that people who may need mental health care deserve the full range of informed choices surrounding the best possible care. This includes the choice to reject treatment. Self-help options and informal personal supports may complement or supplant the full range of formal psychosocial and medical treatments, in accordance with the wishes of the individual. It cannot be assumed that medical treatment is the only or best option for individuals.
Canada has a long tradition of opening its doors to people from all over the world. Since the second world war, significant demographic changes have occurred in this country. Since the 1970’s, the Canadian immigrant population has shifted from mainly European immigration to people from Asia and Africa. The immigrants and refugees arriving in Canada face many barriers to an easy adjustment to Canadian society. The challenge of learning a new language and socio-economic and legal issues make the task of starting a new life in Canada a daunting one. As our population becomes more diverse, the services we provide have to be relevant and accessible to all the people in our community. In addition, as the population changes, the ways in which we provide services must also change. For instance, in order to provide good mental health services, the services need to become culturally sensitive and appropriate.
Since work is an essential part of participation in society, the loss of paid employment can have serious psychosocial, as well as economic, effects. In setting forth this policy statement, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) recognizes that access to meaningful paid employment is a basic human right. In a fair and equitable nation, social justice demands government standards which promote full employment and programs which assist those who are unemployed.
Violence is not somebody else’s problem, it is everyone’s. Violence permeates Canadian society, in the home, in the workplace, in sport, in schools, in religious institutions, and in the media. Each of us must take responsibility for the values, beliefs and institutions in our society that permit violence to happen. Individually and collectively, we must begin to eradicate violence in our society through public education and awareness, through a shift in power relationships, and through law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Power differential is a major factor in violence, and there are many groups and individuals who suffer from an imbalance of power. Women and children are two particularly vulnerable groups in society and therefore the primary victims of violence.
Within CMHA, “consumers” have been defined as “people with direct experience of significant mental health problems who have used the resources available from the mental health system.” Many persons who volunteer or work in the CMHA or mental health system and the community have suffered from mental illness. However, for a variety of reasons, people may choose not to identify themselves as consumers; usually consumer participation means the inclusion of people who choose to identify themselves as consumer of mental health services. This self-identification is part of the empowerment of people who have often been left out of decision-making.