What lies ahead: Mental health and our 2016 Vital Signs report

Sep. 26, 2018

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Author: 
Martha Powell

Two years ago London Community Foundation released a report on our community that shook things up and caused some disruption in the best possible way. Our community’s mental health system wasn’t able to serve everyone that needed help; as a community, we were failing. However, that’s not to say that our community hadn’t been working, and working hard, to make mental health services more accessible and comprehensive for all.

Our “Time is Now” Vital Signs report was released in 2016 through the lens of mental health. Since then, a number of projects have changed the landscape of the mental health care system in our area, in addition to numerous conversations and groups working collaboratively to figure out how things can be improved.

We’ve been proudly able to watch collaborations between CMHA Middlesex and local post-secondary groups create more mental health services for students in London (2017 Community Vitality recipient). Furthermore, every Thursday, you can access free help to navigate the network in our community by checking out Insite, a collaboration between Family Service Thames Valley, Sexual Assault Centre London (now Anova), Craigwood Youth Services, Women’s Rural Resource Centre, WAYS Mental Health Support and Vanier Children’s Services (2016 Community Vitality recipient). What’s more, the City of London has developed the Community Mental Health and Addictions Strategy. Perhaps the best part is that the conversations are still happening, across different corners of our community.

After mobilizing our community to take action, London Community Foundation has decided to take a step back. We were bold, challenged the community and encouraged action beyond conversations. We held several Vital Conversations over the course of two years, convening the dedicated change-makers in our community.

Our final conversation was incredibly stimulating, featuring Mary Wiley of Niagara Connects. With over 60 individuals from the mental health community present, Mary talked about the Niagara Mental Health Charter, how it came to be, and the challenges they faced with implementation. Many attendees were engaged, asked critical questions, and left with a wonder of ‘is this possible for London?’ We’re proud to announce today that it is! With a generous grant from the Isabel Hodgkinson Fund to Lawson Research Institute for the “Working Together: Using Social Network Analysis to Help Connect Mental Health and Addiction Services in Middlesex/London” research project, a unified system is on the horizon. Simply put, community collaborators and leaders have committed to mapping the mental health and addiction services in our community!

Now is the time for LCF to pause, refocus, and let the passionate and knowledgeable mental health and addictions leaders and service providers in our community take the reins on this movement. LCF is embarking on our 2018 Vital Signs journey with the community this autumn (launching October 10th!), using the theme of belonging and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals as our lens - a very different perspective from 2016. No matter where our 2018 journey takes us, we will always be cheering our community on, in excited anticipation of what is yet to come.