COPE statement on Mental Health Task Force
“How can we take guidance from a Task Force that hasn’t genuinely included people who have experienced mental health issues?” –Meena Wong, September 17th, 2014
Long-time mental health advocate and COPE mayoral candidate Meena Wong is speaking out against the final recommendations of the Mayor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions. “The mental health task force has 64 members, almost all of them are politicians, CEOs, doctors and people with money and power,” said Wong. “Only three of the 64 are affected community members. I have heard loud and clear that the community is frustrated by lack of action on affordable housing and better incomes.”
“Why have the City’s task forces consistently failed to include the voices of the people who are most affected?” asked Wong. “Last year the housing task force was all developers without a single renter in a city of 50% renters.” Meena and the COPE team are opposing the recommendations of the Mayors Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions for the following six reasons:
- Task Force did not genuinely include people who have experienced mental health issues and the mental health system from below.
- The report ignores the fact that mental health services are currently facing serious cuts across the city.
- Recommendations fail to address the housing crisis. Homelessness and inadequate housing conditions are the primary cause of deteriorating mental health.
- Task force communications frames people with mental health illness as dangerous, obscures the fact that people with mental health illness are more likely to be the victims of violence.
- The final task force report recommends increased involvement of police in providing mental health support through ACT teams and other VPD assertive care enforcement. There are already 8 mental health apprehensions in Vancouver per day under the Mayor’s police-led approach to mental health. These traumatic arrests are worsening the mental health crisis. What we need instead are low-barrier employment opportunities, healthy living conditions, and more social supports for marginalized people.
- Task Force recommendations will result in increased institutionalization of people with mental health issues. Mental health care institutions will worsen long-term mental health instability if they are not complemented with housing, social supports, decent incomes, and community.
- Doesn’t do enough to address the legacy of colonialism and residential schools, nor does it address the ongoing role of displacement for urban aboriginal communities.
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The Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) is Vancouver’s oldest progressive electoral organization. Founded in 1968, it is a membership based organization that stands for affordability, environmental sustainability, and robust arts and culture. It last held a majority on Vancouver City Council, Parks Board, and School Board 2002-2005. More information is available at http://cope.bc.ca.