TORONTO, November 17, 2016 - When it comes to addiction, there is still severe stigma. Stigma can
negatively impact how individuals are perceived and treated by health
care workers and members of the public. Lack of involvement of people
with lived experience in decision-making or input to improve the system
of care is also a concern. Hearing the stories and messages of people
with lived experience is an important strategy to reduce negative
attitudes and behaviours.
Next month, through the Evidence Exchange Network, CAMH’s Provincial System Support Program (PSSP) will help facilitate its seventh Strengthening Your Voice (SYV)
training session with the local Community Health Centre in Kingston.
The full-day training prepares people with lived and/or family
experience who are dealing with problems with prescription opioid use to
tell their stories publicly.
2016 Strengthening Your Voice Ottawa graduates
“It is critical to include lived experience in the evidence-base that will support decision-making in the province,” said Nandini Saxena,
Manager of Knowledge Exchange, PSSP. “This workshop is one way to
ensure those stories can be shared safely, and in a way that is
meaningful and impactful.”
Faith Rockburne, a 2015 SYV
graduate, notes how the workshop has helped her. “Before I took the
workshop I was a fair speaker; well intentioned, yes, but with a blurry
message. And I had doubts. Today, I am a better speaker with a distinct
message. Today, I have no doubts,” she says.
The opioid addiction and overdose crisis in Canada has reached epidemic proportions. Last week, CAMH released a Prescription Opioid Policy Framework
which summarizes the situation in Ontario, outlines the risks inherent
to opioid policy and offers some high-level policy recommendations. This
Friday, November 18, the federal government will open a two-day summit in Ottawa to address the issue.
started doing SYV speaking and training in conjunction with founding an
advocacy group for drug consumers in 2010 (Drug Users Advocacy League)
because of a lack of a voice in the community,” says trainer Sean LeBlanc.
“In the six years I have been doing this, the thing that most impressed
me is the resilience of people who use drugs; we've come quite a ways
in a short time and it really makes me hopeful for the future, none more
so than our amazing SYV graduates."
To date SYV has graduated 80
individuals. The graduates speak to a variety of audiences and so far
have presented to high school, college and university students, at
conferences like the Addictions & Mental Health Ontario Annual
Conference, CMHA National Conference, and at training programs like
CAMH’s Opioid Problems, Treatment Solutions course for service
“The most frequent comment I get from college and
university teachers is that I have brought to life for students what
before lay flat and dull on the page. After one presentation to Social
Work students I received over 30 emails,” says Rockburne.
With continued support from PSSP, graduates are actively working with system partners to identify new speaking opportunities.
Click here to learn more about Strengthening Your Voice. If you are interested in connecting with a speaker, please contact Tamar Meyer.