We need to do more and we need to do better: Statement from CMHA Ontario.
Black Lives Matter and CMHA has a responsibility and an opportunity to fight for justice and change.
The voices and experiences being shared today and over the past week are not new. We are hearing from those who have felt voiceless, and we are seeing injustices being repeated time and time again. We have witnessed these injustices countless times throughout history and yet here we are today, continuing to live and work in a system that has in some cases created or perpetuated the very inequities that have led to these injustices.
Since its inception, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Ontario has had a vision: a society that embraces and invests in the mental health of all people. Guided by this vision, we pride ourselves in advocating for and enhancing equity in the services that we offer, the programs we design, and the clients we and our local branches reach everyday.
Our work has always been grounded in an understanding of the social determinants of health; freedom from discrimination and violence is a key determinant of mental health. We believe the experience of positive mental health is not possible in a society, within Ontario or across Canada, where racism exists, at the interpersonal, institutional and systemic levels. Racism has detrimental and long-lasting impacts on mental health. Anti-Black racism is a public health issue and must be addressed as such. The events that have taken place over the past week have shown us that we need to do more and that we need to do better.
We mourn every life that has been lost as a result of anti-Black racism. We mourn the many lives of those who needed and asked for better mental health supports and never received them. We stand with those who continue to speak out and will use our platform to amplify their voices.
We know that there are countless others who are still not being heard and many injustices are still being carried out. It is impossible for us to envision a society that embraces the mental health of all people without investing in the solutions to address these inequities. As we have said before, equity matters for mental health, and mental health matters for equity.
CMHA stands in solidarity with Black people everywhere and we are committed to confronting anti-Black racism and advocating for greater equity in mental health and addictions services across our province. We are making a commitment to building a future where mental health for all means equity and justice for all.
Here is an excellent set of questions to ask yourselves, if they apply to you:
- Why is it imperative not to be silent?
- Why it is up to *me* to do the work?
- How do I account for my white privilege and/or positional power so I don’t reinforce it?
- How and why can I offer time off to cope?