Changing Directions, Changing Lives

Changing Directions, Changing Lives

This is the title of Canada’s first-ever national strategy on mental health and it brings me lots of hope. Years in the making, it was officially launched on May 8, 2012. The title tells us it is time to move forward.

The strategy issues a challenge to build on existing strengths, AND to change the way we have been delivering mental health care.

Watch contributors talk about the strategy

Changing Directions, Changing Lives outlines six strategic directions – each of which touches the lives of people living with HIV. PAN is in a unique position to provide leadership in directing mental health change as our communities have been practicing and advocating for the changes detailed in the strategy.

  1. Promote mental health across the lifespan in homes, schools, and workplaces, and prevent mental illness and suicide wherever possible.
  2. Foster recovery and well-being for people of all ages living with mental health problems and illnesses, and uphold their rights.
  3. Provide access to the right combination of services, treatments and supports, when and where people need them.
  4. Reduce disparities in risk factors and access to mental health services, and strengthen the response to the needs of diverse communities and Northerners.
  5. Work with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis to address their distinct mental health needs, acknowledging their unique circumstances, rights, and cultures.
  6. Mobilize leadership, improve knowledge, and foster collaboration at all levels

Download the strategy here:

Changing Directions,Changing Lives: Canada’s Mental Health Strategy

On a Personal Note

We’ll be talking more about the strategy over the coming while, but I also want to take this opportunity to tell you how excited I am to be joining PAN in this work. The intersections between mental health and HIV/HCV –and the lack of care – became increasingly apparent to me when I worked for Positive North in Prince George. Certainly while HIV and HCV take their toll on the physical body, mental suffering and trauma are frequently and intricately interwoven into the lived experience of many.

I am currently working on an Interdisciplinary PhD at UBC in Aboriginal mental health. My arrival here is due, in no small part, to the education and experiences I receive in working in the field of HIV and HCV. In researching and writing, Trap Doors, Revolving Doors: An HIV/HCV and Mental Health Needs Assessment, I was repeatedly struck by the sheer overwhelmingness of the problems, but even more so by the scope of the expertise and practice held by organizations and individuals across the province.

We are at a very strategic and opportune time for dialogue and change. The Mental Health, Substance Use and HIV/HCV Advisory Council plays an important role in this dialogue -as do each of us.

This blog is a place to share ideas, points of interest and information that will contribute to dialogue. Please do email me yours!

Carlene Dingwall, Project Coordinator

Mental Health, Substance Use and HIV/HCV Initiative
[email protected]