The Time is Now

Sep. 18, 2017

2016 Vital Signs report brings awareness to gaps in mental health and addictions care.

Repeated visits to the emergency room, endless waitlists, incorrect diagnoses, lack of post care support, bouncing from one service provider to the next: this is the state of the mental health care system, and a reality that many individuals face every day.

On October 4th 2016, London Community Foundation launched its biennial Vital Signs report - a community 'check-up' that examines issues that are key to quality of life and well-being. Focused on the issue of mental health, the event brought together local mental health and addictions leaders, individuals of lived experience, mental health advocates, donors and community influencers. The message that morning was loud and clear: mental health is the single greatest issue facing our community. The community needs a transformative change in the way mental health services are delivered for efficiency, service capacity and sustainability.

For the past several years, the Foundation has observed an influx of grant requests targeted at tackling the issue of mental health, specifically regarding systems coordination in our local community. Crisis response, wait times, and coordination between service providers to address the gaps for individuals who are at-risk or in transition, are just a few of the most critical needs.

These challenges are all too familiar for David and Lee Ann Berlet who shared the story of their late son, Austen Berlet, who battled with mental health.

“In hindsight, what would we have liked the system to offer us? The answer is simple: we would have liked to be a part of the solution. No parent should ever have to feel the immense pain and loss that we have,” exclaims David.

As leaders and mobilizers of social change, London Community Foundation is taking a stand to address this pressing need. In response to the findings in our 2016 Vital Signs report, the Foundation believes there is a need to convene mental health stakeholders to catalyze change in our mental health system.

Vital Signs 2016 is not only challenging stigma that exists in our local community but is addressing systems gaps, calling for a more inclusive network of mental health organizations. It identifies a need to unify resources andorganizations to provide help to individuals who need it, in a comprehensive, all-encompassing, and unified system.

See the report and statistics here or check out some of the takeaways from our Vital Conversations with the community: Vital Conversation # 1 and Vital Conversation #2