Advocate promoting mental health standards

Andrew Robinson
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Head of national commission visits St. John’s for stakeholder meetings

The head of the Mental Health Commission of Canada was in St. John’s this week to talk with provincial and municipal government officials about adopting some of the guidelines outlined in a strategy document the organization released one year ago.

Louise Bradley, originally from this province, is the president and CEO of the commission. While all provinces and territories contributed to the development of the Mental Health Strategy for Canada, which includes more than 100 recommendations, Bradley said its implementation is largely in the hands of governments.

“As part of our ongoing relationship (and) collaboration, we are continuing to work with, for, and on behalf of the provinces in terms of each one (being) able to take from the strategy whichever recommendations they feel best suits (its needs),” said Bradley, who was scheduled to fly back to Ottawa today.


Stigma a large issue

She said stigma remains an important mental health issue for all provinces. The commission recently released a document on caregiver guidelines that Bradley said gives jurisdictions something further to think about.

“If somebody is off work caring for somebody with cancer or some other illness, that’s acceptable, but we don’t consider the toll it takes when people are off caring for people with mental illnesses,” she said. “So it’s sharing that kind of information to see where the provinces are.”

Bradley was complimentary of her birth-province, making particular mention of its investments in the infrastructure of the Waterford Hospital and government’s work on mental health services for youth.

Bradley said the commission is hoping to convince municipalities to adopt psychological safety standards. That matter was also brought up when she attended a recent Federation of Canadian Municipalities event in Vancouver.


World-wide interest in standards

“We’ve had huge amounts of interest Canada-wide and even internationally,” she said. “There are several other countries that are adopting the standard that we have developed here, so it’s quite well-received.”

Ultimately, those standards look to introduce mental health considerations into the workplace.

“If we’re looking at governments and municipalities, they can be a role model for other organizations and companies and show the benefits of adopting a psychological safety standard.”

Bradley also met with stakeholder groups during her visit, some of whom were present for a breakfast luncheon Tuesday. She said that event brought about much discussion of the stigmas often associated with mental health.

“I’ve been in mental health for about 30 years, and I’ve never seen (this) amount of attention that mental health issues are getting. ... I think the more that we can talk about it, the more attention we bring to it, the more people are comfortable in talking about it.”

She also pointed out there is still work to be done, offering another example to make her point.

“If somebody goes off for surgery, there’s all kinds of flowers and cards that go to the person and emails,” said Bradley. “If somebody goes off with depression, there aren’t cards and flowers. It’s not looked upon the same way. We are trying to promote that mental health needs to be looked at in the same way as any other health issue.”

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Mental Health Commission of Canada, Mental Health Strategy for Canada, Waterford Hospital Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Geographic location: Ottawa, Vancouver.World, Canada

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