Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mental health report focuses on multicultural groups


A March 15th news release from the Mental Health Commission of Canada:
CALGARY, March 15 /CNW Telbec/ - Statistics Canada is predicting that 1 in 3 Canadians will belong to a visible minority by 2031. The Mental Health Commission of Canada has released a report addressing the needs of multicultural, immigrant and refugee groups. The study is part of its mandate to improve mental healthcare across all areas of Canadian society.

"These groups face unique challenges and are more exposed to factors that promote mental health problems and illnesses," says Steve Lurie [pictured], Chair of the Commission's Service Systems Advisory Committee.

The document, titled 'Improving Mental Health Services for Immigrant, Refugee, Ethno-cultural and Racialized (IRER) Groups,' outlines factors that policy makers and service providers may want to consider when working to improve mental health services for these groups.

"Migration, discrimination, language barriers and lack of awareness of services have an impact on mental health," says Lurie. "Trust in services, cultural competence, targeted health promotion, and stigma can all delay access to treatment."

The 16 recommendations in the report are firmly rooted in the goals of the Mental Health Strategy for Canada. The recommendations fit into one of three main areas, including:
  • Better coordination of policy, knowledge and accountability
  • The Involvement of communities, families, and people with lived experience
  • More appropriate and improved services
The report was prepared by the Diversity Task Group, a subcommittee of the Commission's Service Systems Advisory Group. For more details on the recommendations, see the ... backgrounder [below]. To read the report, please [click here (PDF)].

The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a non-profit organization created to focus national attention on mental health issues. The MHCC does not provide services, but rather acts as a catalyst for action. The Service Systems Advisory Committee is one of eight MHCC committees tasked with making a difference in targeted areas. The other seven are: Child and Youth; Mental Health and the Law; Seniors; First Nations, Inuit and M├ętis; Workforce; Family Caregivers; and Science.

BACKGROUNDER

Improving mental health services for immigrant, refugee, ethno-cultural and racialized groups: Issues and options for service improvement

The report was prepared by the Diversity Task Group, a subcommittee of the Commission's Service Systems Advisory Committee and the Social Equity and Health Research department of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Ontario.

The report's plan is firmly rooted in the Commission's development of a Mental Health Strategy for Canada.

There are five groups of actions required to improve mental health services for IRER groups:
  1. Changed focus - an increased emphasis on prevention and promotion

  2. Improvement within services - organisational and individual cultural competence

  3. Improved diversity of treatment - diversity of providers, evaluation of treatment options

  4. Linguistic competence - improved communication plans and actions to meet Canada's diverse needs

  5. Needs linked to expertise - plans to offer support by people and services with expertise to areas with lower IRER populations so they can offer high quality care

Sixteen specific recommendations have been made:
------------------------------------------------

CATEGORY 1: Co-ordination of policy, knowledge and accountability
  1. Each province and territory should include strategies and performance measures in their mental health plans to address the needs of immigrant, refugee, ethno-cultural, and racialized (IRER) groups.

  2. Each province should gather data on the size and the mental health needs of their IRER populations. They should plan their services based on this population data.

  3. The mental health strategy of each province should consider a cross-sectoral plan for improving the social determinants of mental health problems and illness for IRER groups.

  4. A virtual national centre for research into the mental health and mental health problems and illness in IRER groups should be developed. The Centre could perform a regular one-day mental health census of mental health care service use and a community needs survey sampled by province.

  5. Health Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the provinces and territories should produce a research and development fund for studies aimed at answering strategic policy and practice questions for IRER groups' mental health and service provision. For instance there is an urgent need for Canadian research into the identification and evaluation of culturally appropriate systems of care for immigrant children and youth.
CATEGORY 2: The involvement of communities, families and consumers
  1. A central part of each provincial and regional plan to improve the
    mental health of immigrant, refugee, ethno-cultural and racialized groups
    must include the involvement of IRER communities, consumers, and families
    in planning, decision-making, implementation, and evaluation.
CATEGORY 3: More appropriate and improved services
  1. Health funders should require that service providers take steps to
    attract a more diverse workforce and that there is a monitoring of the
    workforce to assess how it reflects the communities being served.

  2. Service provider organizations and provincial ministries should
    develop strategies to enable good candidates from IRER groups to advance
    into appropriate leadership positions within their organizations.

  3. Each service provider should have an organizational cultural
    competence strategy.

  4. Cultural competence training should be made available to all who have
    direct contact with clients and should be provided to existing staff in
    all service organizations.

  5. Cultural competence training should become a standard part of the
    training of all professional care staff. This should be insured through
    standards of accreditation of training programs and institutions and
    licensing professions.

  6. Provinces and territories should encourage diversity in the
    organizations that provide care, the models of care used, and the sites
    at which care is offered in order to meet the mental health needs of IRER
    groups.

  7. A knowledge transfer strategy for promising practices in the delivery
    of care to IRER groups developed and implemented so that the most
    effective models are known to and can be deployed by providers.

  8. A linguistic competence strategy should be mandatory for local/
    regional service providers and funding for this should be provided by
    their funders.

  9. A virtual centre of excellence in the treatment and support of
    immigrant and IRER groups should be developed.

  10. The MHCC could develop a project similar to the national homelessness
    demonstration project to plan, document and evaluate promising practice
    in the development of diversity strategies in at least five communities
    across the country.

To read the full report, please [click here (PDF)].

For further information: Karleena Suppiah, Communications Specialist, (403) 385-4050 or (403) 370-3835 (cell), ksuppiah@mentalhealthcommission.ca

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