TORONTO, August 31, 2022 – CMHO remains committed to addressing systemic barriers and racism within Ontario’s child and youth mental health (CYMH) system. Towards this end, we will continue to publicly track our progress towards the commitments that we made in 2020 and our progress in 2021 that seek to advance racial equity within our system and beyond. The following reflects the work that we have done towards these commitments, so far, in 2022.
CMHO continues to maintain a focus on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion both within our organization and in our work across our sector. We recognize that significant and deeply rooted systemic inequities and barriers continue to impact racialized children, youth, and families across Ontario. Not only can these harms negatively impact their physical and mental well-being; in addition, racialized children, youth, and families face barriers accessing culturally responsive and safe mental health services across our province.
Over the past year, CMHO has continued to work to engage members in equity work. We developed and launched an organizational scan in partnership with the Knowledge Institute on Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions that explored the current state of racial equity policies and practices across organizations in the CYMH sector.
A central piece of our work is the development of a racial equity strategy to address longstanding inequities in our sector. This work will identify strategic directions and actions to be taken by CMHO members and partners to advance racial equity. The strategy development process has included executive directors, youth, and families with lived experience, and other key partners through focus groups and strategic planning initiatives.
Additionally, since our last update, we have worked to continue conversations around the importance of racial equity by:
– Holding a webinar series for CMHO member organization EDs and CMHO Board members discussing topics including anti-Black racism and anti-Indigenous racism.
– Hosting sessions at our annual conference focused on anti-Black racism and the importance of re-centering racialized youth experiences in the mental health system.
– Releasing a policy paper by CMHO’s youth engagement group, The New Mentality, highlighting the 2020 survey findings and short- and long-term recommendations for the sector.
– Participating in working groups and advisory committees to provide an equity-lens to different initiatives being completed across the province, including plans to develop a virtual walk-in clinic for youth across Ontario.
– Creating an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Community of Practice (CoP) for CMHO members to discuss topics and share resources related to racial equity both within their organizations and across the sector.
– Hosting monthly BIPOC Affinity Group meetings led by The New Mentality.
While we have worked to make progress over the past year, we want to be clear that this work is and will continue to be an ongoing process. It is embedded in our collective commitment to build a more equitable system for all children, youth, and families across Ontario, and is driven in large part by the lived experiences of youth and families themselves. As such, we are dedicated to ensuring that we continue to maintain equity as an organizational priority and will provide another update on our progress next year.