A CMHA, Vancouver-Fraser Branch Report provides systematic recommendations to improve access to the complex formal support systems in Vancouver
Vancouver, BC – The Vancouver Mental Health and Addictions Systems Barrier Report – 2015/2016, recently released by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Vancouver-Fraser Branch (CMHA-VF), draws on the experience of individuals accessing CMHA-VF’s Peer Navigator Program as they try to find their way through the complex mental health and addictions services (and other associated social support systems) in Vancouver. The report identifies obstacles individuals encounter every day while trying to improve their wellness by accessing housing, income support, primary health care, mental health and addictions care in Vancouver. The Report also provides concrete and detailed recommendations to make the system better for people trying to access it.
“The report is the product of our program’s first year in operation,” says Ron Carten, CMHA-VF Peer Navigator. “We hope the report will make people think differently about how, with a few changes, the system could support people with mental health and addictions concerns instead of constantly present them with challenges that are difficult to navigate.”
A few key areas of concern identified in the report are the lack of availability of subsidized and affordable housing, limited access to health services including primary health care, diagnosis and treatment, consumer education and engagement, and societal stigma related to mental illness and addictions.
“We know that a healthy and responsive support network is key for an individual as they seek wellness and to live the most fulfilling and contributing life they can,” states Michael Anhorn, Executive Director of CMHA-VF. “Our collective efforts to improve and implement systematic changes will prevent individuals from falling through the cracks, and will reduce the stress and isolation people often feel as they try to obtain the supports they need.”
A unique feature of the report is “David’s Story”, a narrative of an individual living with mental health and addictions problems. In order to illustrate the complex interactions between barriers, readers follow David on his journey trying to navigate through Vancouver’s mental health and addictions systems with the help of a Peer Navigator. The story provides a realistic understanding of both the challenges encountered, and how a CMHA-VF Peer Navigator can help and empower people trying to access supports.
“David is a fictional character our team created based on the experiences we hear from our program participants every day and on our own experiences in the mental health and addiction systems”, says Jill Aalhus, Peer Navigator and lead author of the report.
Meet ‘David’ and learn about how our mental health and addictions system could become more accessible to those who need it most by reading the full report at: [https://vancouver-fraser.cmha.bc.ca/programs-services/peer-navigator-peer-support/]. CMHA-VF will also be distributing copies of the Report to health and social services agencies in Vancouver.