Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 8, 2015)
Here are some of the reasons why CAMH / Centre for Addiction and Mental Health was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016):
- CAMH offers exceptional family-friendly benefits, including maternity and parental leave top-up payments for employees who are new mothers, ranging from 84% to 93% of salary for 52 weeks, and offers an option to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence -- CAMH also provides parental leave top-up payments for fathers and adoptive parents and manages an onsite daycare facility employees can take advantage of when they are ready to return to work
- New employees at CAMH receive three weeks of vacation to start, moving to a maximum of seven weeks for longstanding employees
- As part of the organization's important role in the community, CAMH hosts a number of events and celebrations for employees, families, clients and the broader community on key diversity dates, including Black History Month, International Women's Day, National Aboriginal Awareness Week and Disability Awareness Month
CAMH gets rid of the walls around mental illness
Many organizations like to say they are "building for the future," but at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), this conviction is a reality. Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital is preparing to enter the largest phase yet of a multi-year redevelopment project aimed at furthering its mission of transforming the lives of those with mental illness and addiction.
"There are lots of changes on the way," says Kim Bellissimo, Vice President, Human Resources and Organizational Development at CAMH. "The model for dealing with the populations we serve has evolved from one of custodial care to one of healing and recovery. That's very inspirational and is reflected in everything we do."
CAMH, formed from the merger of four organizations in 1998, is headquartered at Queen Street West and Ossington Avenue in downtown Toronto where a "lunatic asylum" first opened in 1850. The buildings, and their names, changed over the years, but until CAMH emerged with a modern mandate to reinvent the treatment of mental illness, negative attitudes remained entrenched.
Today, only a stretch of high brick wall stands as an historic reminder of how isolated patients once were from their family, friends and the community at large.
The 27 - acre site is helping to revitalize the neighbourhood with pedestrian-friendly grounds, shops and green spaces. In the 21st century, being integrated into the community is part of the treatment.
At a time of changing attitudes, especially among young people who are more willing to seek help, the open, welcoming environment is designed to encourage even more people to come forward for treatment.
CAMH is also one of the world's leading research centres in its field. Researchers are focused on making cutting edge discoveries that will improve our understanding of the brain and transform patient care. By the time two new buildings are completed in 2020, educational and clinical care spaces will enhance opportunities for knowledge exchange and for turning scientific discoveries into pioneering new treatments.
For CAMH staff, a dynamic, safe and healthy workplace, easily accessible by public transit, is just the starting point. The organization offers employees, among other things, a competitive pay and benefits package, opportunities for development and advancement, and exceptional family-friendly incentives. The latter include parental-leave top-up payments, an option to extend that leave into an unpaid leave of absence, and an onsite daycare facility.
What attracted Uzma Haider to CAMH three years ago - and has kept her excited and engaged since - was a unique opportunity to deploy her skills and education. With degrees in engineering and health infometrics, Haider describes her work on CAMH's new I-CARE technology infrastructure as "an amazing fit." I-CARE, which documents and standardizes patient health information, facilitates collaboration among all the professionals involved in a patient's care, including physicians, nurses and social workers.
As a Project Coordinator in CAMH's Information Management Group, Enterprise Project Management Office, Haider helped to implement I-CARE and is now involved in optimizing its operations. "I-CARE is a fully customized system and each group of stakeholders has different needs," she says. "There is a lot of work involved in making sure I-CARE works in a way that makes sense for everyone while continuing to enhance the system's speed and functionality overall."
This assignment brings her face-to-face with a wide range of CAMH "The real draw is the cause, the shared sense of improving the quality of life for others." - Kim Bellissimo, Vice President, Human Resources and Organizational Development Join CAMH, Canada's leading hospital for mental health, and help transform the lives of people living with mental illness and addiction. Transform your career with one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers Visit our website and transform your career. www.camh.ca employees, says Haider, and this in turn has given her a broader understanding of the mission and values that inform the organization's operations. It is also another reason she enjoys her position with CAMH. "This is such a great team to work with," Haider says."
Bellissimo concurs: "The real draw is the cause, the shared sense of improving the quality of life for others."
This article appeared in the magazine announcing this year's Greater Toronto's Top Employers winners, published December 8, 2015 in The Globe and Mail. This article was prepared with the financial support of the employer, which did not write or edit its contents.
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2016)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 23, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why CAMH / Centre for Addiction and Mental Health was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2016):
- CAMH manages "Employment Works!", a unique program to help individuals with mental health or addiction access meaningful employment through skills development, including resume writing, cover letters, referrals and other educational resources -- also as part of the program, CAMH partners with TD Bank to organize education sessions on how clients can be competitive when applying for jobs at the bank and elsewhere
- CAMH supports the "Out of This World Cafe" at three of its locations -- cafes are operated by Working for Change and provide employment opportunities for the psychiatric consumer/survivor community
- CAMH maintains a health equity department, which works to create equal opportunities for good health and reduce differences in health among population groups -- the department recently produced CAMH's first health equity report on access and outcomes of services for ethnic and racial groups, and offers a University of Toronto accredited certificate program in diversity and health equity
At CAMH, demonstrating that all are welcome
Growing up in one of Toronto's poorer neighbourhoods, Michael Antwi noticed early on that not everyone got to use the public services and amenities that many other Canadians take for granted. That observation turned into an academic study of inequality that led ultimately to a position at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) where his passion for fair treatment for all is a natural fit.
"It was a pleasant surprise to see how seriously CAMH takes diversity," says Antwi. "We all have different backgrounds and experiences and we take all those experiences into account."
Antwi had arrived at Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital after several previous jobs had provided less scope for positive change than he'd anticipated. Today, he is a Research Coordinator in CAMH's Social Equity and Health Research Department where he works on a variety of projects. These delve into a range of topics while sharing a similar goal: improving the lives of those who experience addiction and mental illness, including those from marginalized groups that traditionally have had problems accessing high-quality, appropriate care.
Research shows that factors such as gender, race, sexual orientation, immigration status, physical or mental disability, income and education can negatively influence a person's health, access to services and the quality of care received.
CAMH established its Health Equity Office, which is dedicated to eradicating such disparities, in March 2011. It was a logical step for the Toronto hospital, which had made diversity a permanent organization-wide priority over a decade before. Diversity - and its conceptual cousin, inclusivity - permeate every aspect of the organization, from providing a safe, accessible and supportive environment for staff, clients and the broader community to ensuring that all CAMH policies share compatible goals and approaches.
This commitment manifests itself in myriad ways. "We don't only promote diversity, we celebrate it," says Kim Bellissimo, Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development. "It's a way for us to actively demonstrate that everyone is welcome here."
These celebrations often mark key occasions, including Black History Month, International Women's Day, National Aboriginal Awareness Week, LGBTIQ Pride Week and Disability Awareness Month.
CAMH also welcomes patients from a number of linguistic groups by communicating with them in their own language. In addition to supplying written material in 50 languages and dialects, professional interpreters, who are also trained in healthcare terminology, are always available.
The CAMH staff is as diverse as the populations it serves - and as Antwi sees it, that benefits everyone. Some clients, he notes, "may be more receptive to care, if the care provider looks like them." Equally important is the message it sends to employees themselves.
"Being part of such a diverse group allows me to learn from different people and exposes me to different ways of thinking about things," says Antwi. "That's huge."
CAMH also champions education, policy development and social change so that its patient population may be fully included in the broader population. It manages Employment
Works!, a program that demonstrates to employers that people do recover from poor mental health and that most can return to meaningful employment.
Employment Works! recruits people with lived experience of mental health and/or addiction challenges into vacant CAMH positions, including posts such as Peer Support Worker or Community Ambassador. It also helps clients and others in the community to find external employment. As part of the program, CAMH partners with George Brown College to organize education sessions for employers on hiring and supporting those with lived experience with mental illness and addiction in their workplaces.
Bellissimo, who during her career has seen a variety of organizations implement diversity policies, is proud of what CAMH has achieved. "We offer a level of inclusivity I've never experienced before," she says. "It stands out because it's all done in a such a professional way."
This article appeared in the magazine announcing this year's Canada's Best Diversity Employers winners, published February 24, 2016 in The Globe and Mail. This article was prepared with the financial support of the employer, which did not write or edit its contents.