Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019):
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 28, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why CAMH / Centre for Addiction and Mental Health was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019):
- CAMH manages "Employment Works!", a unique program to help individuals with mental health or addiction access meaningful employment through skills development such as resume writing, cover letters, referrals and other educational resources -- Accenture has also partnered with the "Employment Works" program, offering access to Accenture-facilitated employment workshops, resume building exercises and videotaped mock interviews
- CAMH supports the "Out of This World Cafe" at three of its locations -- originally a vocational rehabilitation program managed by CAMH, the cafes are now operated by Working for Change and provide employment opportunities for the psychiatric consumer/survivor community (with 20 individuals currently employed)
At CAMH, a far-reaching drive for positive change
Diversity and inclusion permeate every aspect of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). And it doesn't stop there for Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital. According to Carrie Fletcher, Vice President, People and Experience, "Diversity and inclusion go beyond our walls."
That straightforward statement reflects a complex reality. CAMH is on a mission to transform the lives of all who experience mental illness, including addiction. As well as providing care to more than 30,000 patients a year, CAMH is on the forefront of change in education, policy development and health promotion. Through its research, CAMH is helping to revolutionize the scientific understanding of the brain.
Nevertheless, stigma still surrounds mental illness and substance use. This prejudice can negatively impact people when they're experiencing difficulties or receiving treatment, and when their mental health problems are behind them.
One way CAMH works to change attitudes is by demonstrating to employers that people do recover and that most can return to work and be productive. To that end, Employment Works! is a recruitment initiative that targets people with lived experience of mental illness to fill vacant CAMH positions. Through support and coaching, the program helps prepare them for this crucial next step -just as many organizations already do after a staff member has taken time off to recover from a heart attack or other serious ailment, Fletcher notes.
"We spend more of our waking hours at work than anywhere else," she says. "Being a contributing member of society contributes to your overall health and well-being."
Hiring people with different experienc.es and perspectives helps CAMH connect with its diverse clientele, Fletcher adds. CAMH also partners with other community agencies such as the CARE Centre for Internationally Trained Nurses to fill vacancies. "We look to many diverse avenues to continually diversify our workplace," she adds.
As a Social Worker with CAMH's Complex Care and Recovery Program, Denise Johnson is part of an interdisciplinary team that provides comprehensive care and services to a population that's particularly stigmatized - people with serious mental illness who have come into contact with law. To support a successful discharge and transition into a life outside of CAMH, Johnson and her team put in motion a plan tailored to an individual's specific needs and abilities.
A key part her work involves reaching out to others on behalf of her patients. Johnson works with CAMH staff and a variety of community partners and support groups to arrange a structured routine and appropriate housing. The goal for discharge is to set an individual up for success while maintaining the safety of the community at large. "It's a balancing act because we have to keep both the public and the individual in mind," says Johnson, adding "I do my best to educate people in the community."
This kind of work can be stressful to CAMH employees. Johnson credits the team at CAMH for support: "There's a fabulous team here that we can talk to," says Johnson. "We all do a good job of supporting one another."
CAMH is dedicated to the safety and well-being of its employees, which includes having resources in place when meaningful work becomes stressful. The hospital has an on-site pool and wellness centre where activities include nutrition workshops, hands-on art programs and music sessions. CAMH facilities open to both patients and staff include a Sweat Lodge and Sacred Space, which is available for individual meditation and prayer, in addition to regular ceremonies for those of diverse faiths.
Still, diversity and inclusion will always be a work in progress at CAMH. "We need to remind ourselves that not everybody sees things through the same lens," says Fletcher. "We need to continually address matters as they arise to ensure the organization is living and breathing diversity and inclusion."