Here is a link to the PDF for the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) mental health and addictions report: Minds that Matter
Here is a summery from the OHRC website:
Minds that Matter reports the findings from the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) province-wide consultation on the human rights issues experienced by people with mental health disabilities or addictions. It provides a summary of what we heard from more than 1,500 individuals and organizations across Ontario.
Throughout the consultation, we heard significant concerns about the discrimination and harassment facing people with mental health disabilities or addictions in many aspects of their lives. Mental health disabilities can include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety disorders. Addictions can include alcohol and substance addictions and problem gambling.
We heard that people with mental health issues or addictions face common stereotypes – that they are a security risk or are incapable of making decisions for themselves. These stereotypes result in widespread discrimination in housing, employment and services, and are deeply embedded in legislation, institutional policies and practices of institutions and individual attitudes.
Many people with mental health issues or addictions don’t know they have a legal right to be free from discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code). In addition, we heard how rules, policies and practices in employment, housing and services are not designed with the needs of people with mental health issues or addictions in mind. Multiple barriers are created that prevent people from accessing these areas equitably. For example, services may not be designed to include people with episodic disabilities; people may be told they have to meet the criteria for being considered permanently disabled to be eligible for a service.
Many organizations do not appear to be aware of their responsibilities under the Code to uphold the human rights of people with mental health disabilities or addictions. We were told that many organizations need guidance on how to meet their duty to accommodate the individual needs of people with mental health or addiction disabilities. Also, where these rights conflict, we heard that balancing the rights of people with mental health or addiction disabilities with the rights or needs of others can be challenging.
Important themes that ran throughout the consultation were respect for people’s dignity, privacy and individual differences, as well as people’s rights to autonomy, non-discrimination, and full integration and participation in the community. These principles are grounded in the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and mirror the purpose of the Code. For example, many people raised privacy concerns, telling us that their disability-related information was inappropriately requested or shared by employers, housing or service providers.
We heard how societal factors create the conditions for discrimination and exclusion of people with mental health issues or addictions. Poverty was a clear theme in people’s lives. In Ontario, people with mental health issues or addictions are much more likely to live in poverty than people with other types of disabilities or without disabilities. We heard that barriers to housing, services and employment opportunities for people who have low income will likely disadvantage people with mental health issues or addictions.
As well, we were told that a shortage of affordable housing opportunities and high levels of poverty often result in homelessness. The lack of available mental health services, housing and other supports has resulted in too many people with mental health issues and addictions in the criminal justice system. Discrimination contributes to low levels of education and high levels of unemployment and poverty.
We also heard that discrimination based on other disabilities and other Code grounds affect people’s mental health and well-being. Other grounds cited included:
- Race and related grounds, including Aboriginal identity
- Sex and gender identity
- Sexual orientation.
Discrimination based on mental health and addictions can combine or intersect with other forms of discrimination, creating distinct experiences of disadvantage. People with addictions may face unique forms of stereotyping and inequities compared to people with only mental health disabilities.
Some forms of discrimination are explicit and direct; others unintentional and subtle. Some rental housing providers, employers and service providers, including health care providers, may turn people away based on disability-related factors. Stereotyping can lead to harassment towards people with disabilities in the form of negative comments, social isolation and unwanted conduct from employers, landlords, co-workers or service providers. We also learned how people can be denied employment, service or housing opportunities because seemingly neutral rules actually lead to disadvantage; these can include tenant screening practices, hiring practices or police background checks.
There are signs that a shift is underway in how people with mental health issues or addictions are viewed. Mental health has been made a government priority at the provincial and federal levels. The U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities changes the focus on persons with disabilities from recipients of charity to holders of rights. By ratifying this convention, Canada has agreed to take steps to ensure equality and non-discrimination in many aspects of life for all people with disabilities. Across Ontario, there is increasing awareness and acknowledgment of the major barriers that people with mental health issues and addictions face. Individuals and organizations are asking for more education about mental health, and for changes to laws and policies to end negative stereotyping and discrimination.
Preventing and eliminating discrimination is a shared responsibility. This report sets out recommendations for action for government, housing providers, employers, service providers and other parties, as well as a series of OHRC commitments towards eliminating discrimination based on mental health and addictions in Ontario.
I work for the City of Toronto in a children’s after school program. I create and facilitate activities, including arts and crafts, character education and games, for up to 45 children ages 6-11. I am very good at what I do and more importantly I love what I do. These kids have saved me on multiple occasions but have also pushed my buttons.
Working scares me but looking for a job scares me more.
A lot of my friends have jobs while in high school. I didn’t. I was told that if employers found out I had depression they would fire me. I then created a story in my head where I would flip out on a customer or have a depressive episode at work and be fired.
I decided to hide (so to speak).
Because of what I was being told employers felt about people with mental health issues I used it ask my excuse to not find work. There is of course truth in saying that people with mental health issues are discriminate against in the work force. They are made to hide their illness and may even be let go from their job because of it.
The Canadian unemployment rate for individuals with mental health issues, depending on the severity, is between 70%-90%! Being able to work has been identified as a large part of promoting recovery and creating a more positive life for someone with a mental health issue (CMHA).
Any number of reasons can contribute to why the unemployment rate is so high: fear of being discriminated against, unable to work required hours, lack of past work experience, employer not wanting the “burden” of a staff with a mental health issue, lack of accommodation etc.
I wouldn’t be surprised, and I’m just speculating, that if employers were more understanding of mental illness, the same way they would about other illnesses, then maybe mental illness would be the second leading cause of disability in Canada (CAMH)? If people knew that their jobs were safe while they worked on themselves then maybe they wouldn’t feel that work is not possible? If employers to meet people on their level and not the other way around then maybe the mental health unemployment rate could go down?
I found myself at 18 years old, in University, needing money and ZERO work experience aside from babysitting. This doesn’t look good! I’ve been scrambling the last 4 years together every bit of experience I can to expand my resume but I still feel the repercussions of not having certain experience. I don’t get certain jobs.
It’s a tough job market. The government says they’re creating jobs but they’re not creating jobs that I can do.
I need another job. My contract is going to run out in June and I need more money anyways because I don’t work enough hours where I am currently. I woke up terrified to hand in a resume today at Pet Valu, I became extremely self-defeating.
“They won’t hire you, you have none of what they’re looking for!”
“This is what you get for being depressed as a teen. No experience!”
Blah blah blah! I did it anyways and I stand as much chance as anyone else regardless of my mental health status (which rarely gets in the way of my work).