Some 8,000 OPSEU members work in the mental health sector. Tens of thousands more work with people with mental health issues. As such, OPSEU always has its finger on the pulse of mental health care in Ontario. We know government funding for mental health care doesn’t begin to meet the needs of Ontarians, which continue to grow across the province.
That’s why OPSEU supports initiatives that help raise awareness of mental health and the urgent need to fund it adequately. One increasingly visible and important campaign is Bell Canada’s Let’ Talk.
Begun in 2010, Let’s Talk has four main goals:
- to remove the stigma surrounding mental health;
- to improve access to mental health care;
- to support world-class research; and
- to promote mental health awareness in the workplace.
OPSEU applauds and supports all of these important goals. But we would add another goal that must be given the serious concern it deserves: to prevent violence against mental health workers.
Our members face high risks of violence in mental health facilities. We believe no campaign around mental health is complete without addressing the need for government action to lower the risk of violence by increasing staffing levels and setting up better risk assessment procedures.
We know one in five Ontarians will experience mental health issues. Millions more will be affected by those living with mental health issues. Initiatives like Let’s Talk help spread the word about the extent of this growing societal problem. But government is best placed to address it by adequately funding access to mental health supports, as well as equipping mental health workplaces with the security measures needed to keep staff safe from harm.
Bell Let’s Talk is a great way to contribute to the conversation around mental health. Let’s make it a springboard to the urgent conversation we need with the Ford government around its obligation to support those with mental health issues – and the dedicated workers who care for them.