National Francophone Week runs from March 16 to 23. Today, and all year round, CAMH is doing its part to serve the Francophone community.
Late last month, the Francophone community organization Reflet Salvéo hosted the forum “Mental Health: Changing Minds.” Executive director Gilles Marchildon acknowledged the “outstanding efforts made by health services providers like CAMH” toward better access to quality care for French-speaking clients. CAMH’s Crisis Clinic was specifically praised and presented with Excellence in French Language Health Services award.
(L to R) Toronto Central LHIN’s FLS Coordinator Tharcisse Ntakibirora, Reflet Salvéo Board Chair Marlène Thélusma-Rémy, CAMH Crisis Clinic Social worker Renée Hughes-Suh, Reflet Salvéo Executive Director Gilles Marchildon, CAMH FLS Coordinator Aliou Sene
Bilingual social worker Renée Hughes-Suh received the prize on behalf of CAMH’s Crisis Clinic. “We’re just trying to make the access and transition process as smooth as possible for each client,” said Hughes-Suh, stressing the importance of having French-speaking health professionals who can welcome, support and treat French-speaking clients at every step in their journey.
The Crisis Clinic is part of the Access and Transitions Program, which has undergone many improvements with the implementation of the Access CAMH project—the ultimate goal being to create a centralized intake and integrated pathway to care.
Reflet Salvéo, which hosted the forum, is one of six provincial planning entities mandated by the Ontario government to advise and make recommendations to Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) to ensure that the needs of French-speaking communities are reflected in the planning and integration of health services.
The forum was an opportunity to gather government and Crown agency representatives, health service providers and Francophone community members to reflect on mental health, immigration and French Languages Services (FLS).
Dr. Kwame McKenzie
Guest speaker Dr. Kwame McKenzie, CAMH’s Medical Director of Underserved Populations, delivered an outstanding presentation on “Francophone Mental Health and Equity at CAMH”, in which he highlighted CAMH’s efforts in improving access to high quality care for diverse and minority groups. Dr. McKenzie highlighted the number of French-speaking psychiatrists, nurses, social workers and other staff at CAMH and also talked about CAMH’s Interpretation Services and the Refugee Mental Health Project’s online course, which is available both in English and French.
Thanks to its translation services, CAMH has broadened its impact beyond not only the province, but Canada. Our publications, education and training resources have been ordered by Francophone countries, while our bilingual web platforms are also drawing interest both nationally and internationally. The French-speaking staff of our Provincial System Support Program team are working closely with local Francophone communities as mental health and addiction program consultants.
Through our community engagement activities and work with Francophone stakeholders, we are always looking for input to help us improve access to integrated care and social support for our francophone clients. For instance, we are actively engaged in the FLS Mental Health and Addiction Network in the GTA.
CAMH’s Education department is also implementing a three-year provincial project aimed at improving access to information on mental health and addiction services for Francophone youth. The community is involved at every step of the process.
As Toronto Central LHIN Board Chair Melusine Kleini stated during her opening speech at the forum, “French Language Services are shared responsibilities,” and CAMH is doing its fair share.
But there is always more work to do. Melusine, speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, reminded us that “in any given year, one in five people in Canada experiences mental health problem or illness with a social cost of at least $39 billion in Ontario alone.” Klein’s remarks highlighted the need to continuously look for innovative ideas in “transforming lives” through an “accessible, equitable and effective mental illness and addiction system.”