Inspiring the System, Inspiring Hope

May. 09, 2017

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Author: 
Stephanie Winterton

Over and over again our news channels are flooded with publications on how our mental health care system is failing those in our community. From a jumbled system to long wait times and insufficient funding, London and Middlesex is struggling to keep up with those needing mental health supports.

London Community Foundation released its 2016 Vital Signs report this past October, with the focus solely on mental health. The call to action is simple – “the time is now” to act. London Community Foundation hasn’t stopped working, since the release of the report.

Since October, two Vital Conversations have been held, pushing attendees to openly and critically look at the system and how it could possible improve. We all want the same thing – to help those seeking our services, to learn how we can ensure everyone receives the attention and time they may need. We acknowledge and commend the numerous groups and individuals who are working to create change.We're here to support and champion the journey forward to create a unified mental health and addictions strategy for our community. We no longer need to only change the system, but we need to inspire the system, and with it we will inspire hope.

February 2nd marked an important day. It was the day that community members and mental health stakeholders came together to try and answer the question: “How can we move forward with hope to deal with some of the identified issues?”

You can find a full summary here, but a few key takeaways include the following:

  • Peer supports have a place of great value in our community. Sometimes all that is needed is the creation of a safe community space where individuals can provide their own support 
  • Education, awareness, and de-stigmatization are still needed. Every opportunity should be taken to increase these efforts. 
  • Need to find a way to be flexible, whether that means further collaboration or simply building on current strengths 
  • Don’t discount the individual support systems. We need to remember to listen to not only individuals struggling personally with mental health, but their friends, family and loved ones. They, too, have a story to tell and have voices.  
  • Newcomers and minority groups are often found facing additional challenges, something that can be changed with our own daily actions for inclusivity.

The title of this second Vital Conversation was “The Blame Game,” but by the end of the conversation it had become apparent that the community wanted so much more for the mental health community. A communal desire for things to continue to improve, to identify the incredible things currently in the works, and to acknowledge that recognizing the gaps allows for even more improvement. The room at Goodwill that February evening was full of hope for a better, stronger, and more unified mental health care system.

We will soon be having a third Vital Conversation, but this one will be a challenge. We want to act, and we want to act now. This is going to be more than just a conversation. This is going to be a chance, an opportunity, for London and Middlesex to come together and take a big step to create a better mental health care system. It’s time to act and the time is now.

For more information, please visit londonvitalsigns.ca or feel free to email info [at] lcf [dot] on [dot] ca for a prompt reply.

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