In the last few years, we have seen a growing awareness of mental health and mental illness nationally, provincially and locally. This report is a comprehensive profile that brings together many sources of information to describe mental health in Lambton County. We also propose recommendations to promote and protect community mental health.
Lambton County has many existing strengths – we are a flourishing, resilient community with a generally high level of mental health literacy and low level of stigma toward mental illness. But our most vulnerable people experience the greatest stigma and worse baseline mental health. This is particularly acute in young people between 15 and 24 years of age.
Although better than the Ontario average, our residents are not confident enough in the ability of our institutions and organizations to address mental health needs. We need to better understand how mental health is addressed in primary care and other health care settings in order to ensure high quality treatment of mental illness. We have a strong foundation of mental wellbeing, but there is more that can be done to improve and maintain positive mental health for everyone in Lambton County.
One of the goals of Canada’s mental health strategy is to support local mental health promotion and prevention work (Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2009). Mental health promotion activities in Lambton do exist, but many are in early stages and haven’t been fully evaluated. A local mental health strategy that outlines and coordinates the roles of different settings and stakeholders – workplaces, schools, community organizations, and even individuals themselves – would help to provide direction and build on the momentum created by mental health awareness initiatives. Increasing capacity to evaluate mental health promotion initiatives, and sharing the results of those evaluations, can build our understanding of the collective impacts of mental health efforts in our community.
This report suggests multiple areas of focus for improving mental health in Lambton County. Improving personal skills and knowledge will be an important part of future efforts to sustain mental health. We must also build capacity for systematic, evidence-based and properly evaluated organizational action across sectors. Better coordination among service providers and training for primary care providers may be important additional supports for overall mental health system improvement. Training and support for stakeholders in the justice system will enable more effective intervention for people with mental health needs.
A comprehensive, community-wide effort is needed to address mental health for individuals and families, organizational settings, and the greater community to achieve the following objectives:
For Individuals & Families
Increase self-reported mental wellbeing
Decrease perceived mental health stigma and discrimination
Increase individual knowledge and skills for mental health
Increase access to and appropriate use of mental health services
Increase use of evidence-informed interventions for mental health
*including schools, workplaces and health care settings