A Message from CEO, Claudia den Boer
I have been thinking about the death of George Floyd and feel compelled to speak up as a leader of an organization that strives to support equity for all those we serve and equity within the workplace where we serve. I want staff who are members of the Black Community to know that CMHA is a safe place where anti-black racism or any form of racism is not tolerated.
Below is an excerpt from the statement that CMHA Ontario has communicated and it resonates with me.
“We need to do more and we need to do better”
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 every day. 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 Ontario 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.
I want us to stand in solidarity with those who have said:
- We refuse to accept as unchangeable systemic inequalities that make health care inaccessible and mean that too many Black people only access mental health care when they are in deep distress.
- We refuse to accept as normal systemic anti-Black racism that means Black people are more likely to live in poverty, face housing insecurity, face barriers in accessing education and are overly criminalized.
- We refuse to accept as normal a world where our calls for justice are routinely dismissed and ignored.