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Welcome to the Conversation Café. Poverty, Employment and Mental Illness. About the hosts. ONTARIO SHORES A public teaching hospital located in Whitby , Ontario specializing in comprehensive mental health care and addiction services for those with complex and serious mental illness

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Welcome to the Conversation Café

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welcome to the conversation caf

Welcome to the Conversation Café

Poverty, Employment and Mental Illness

about the hosts
About the hosts


  • A public teaching hospital located in Whitby, Ontario specializing in comprehensive mental health care and addiction services for those with complex and serious mental illness
  • 1,200 employees, 339 inpatient beds, extensive outpatient programs covering large urban and rural areas
  • Mission- We provide leadership and exemplary mental health care through specialized treatment, research, education and advocacy
  • Vision– Recovering Best health, Inspiring Hope and Nurturing Discovery
  • Values– Excellence, Safety, Respect, Innovation and Community
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Department offers individual and group Supported Employment, Psycho-Social Rehab, Adult Education for both inpatients and outpatients
about the hosts1
About the hosts

WAYPOINT Centre for Mental Health Care

Advancing Understanding. Improving Lives.

A waypoint is a reference for navigation, whether nautical or in finding your way on a road or journey. We are situated on beautiful Georgian Bay, a nautical location capturing the healing power often associated with water. It represents a safe harbour, guiding light or safe stopping point during a storm, helping define the hospital’s role in the journey of treatment and recovery from mental illness.

Mission: We are a Catholic hospital committed to providing excellence in specialized mental health and addictions service grounded in research and guided by faith-based values.

Vision: As an inspired organization , we will change lives by leading the advancement and delivery of compassionate care.

Values: Caring Respect Innovation Accountability

what is a conversation caf
What is a Conversation Café?

Conversation Cafés are open, hosted conversations in cafés as well as conferences and classrooms—anywhere people gather to make sense of our world. At a Conversation Cafe there is nothing to join, no homework, no agenda, just a simple process that helps to shift us from small talk to BIG talk, conversations that matter.

Core Principles:

Open-mindedness: Listen to and respect all points of view.Acceptance: Suspend judgment as best you can.Curiosity: Seek to understand rather than persuade.Discovery: Question assumptions, look for new insights.Sincerity: Speak from your heart and personal experience.Brevity: Go for honesty and depth but don’t go on and on.

More information at www.conversationcafe.org

welcome to the conversation caf poverty mental illness and employment
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSEX0TvVT1A
  • Frank Valeriote, MP speaks on mental health in the House of Commons
poverty mental illness and employment
Poverty, Mental Illness and Employment
  • People with mental illness live in chronic poverty, and yet poverty is a risk factor for poor mental health
  • Poverty is defined as a lack of sufficient income to provide for the basic necessities of life consistent with the norms of society
  • Statistics Canada uses the Low Income Cut-off (LICO) as the measure of poverty.An individual with an income less than $18,260 annually is considered living in poverty
  • Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) Income support and Ontario Works (OW) social assistance benefit provides an individual with $12900 (ODSP) and approximately $6000 (OW) annually
  • Q- What is the current state of social assistance in your province?
what s being done
What’s being done?
  • There has several reports, agreements, policies that recognize mental illness, poverty and unemployment as priorities both at the provincial and federal level:
  • Examples include Poverty Reduction Strategies across 6 out of 10 provinces
  • The United Nations convention on the rights of people with disabilities (CRPD) (2012)
  • Minds that Matter – A report on the consultation on human rights, mental health and additions Ontario Human Rights Commission (ORHC) (2012)
  • Ontario’s report on transforming Social Assistance for both disability and welfare supports (2012)
poverty mental illness and employment1
Poverty, Mental Illness and Employment

InDepth: MENTAL HEALTH – YouTube

Q- What are some key items identified in video that speak to mental illness and poverty?

Click on link above to watch video

discussion table 1
Discussion Table # 1
  • If work makes people with mental illness sick, what do unemployment, poverty and social isolation cause?
  • What conversation, if begun today, could ripple out in a way that created new possibilities for the future for people experiencing mental illness?

Table Responses: (recorded directly from participant conversation)

  • Increase the access to work programs for persons experiencing mental illness, revamp the social assistance models to reflect better incentives to work
  • Pay close attention to the signs of the workplace – support employees to feel comfortable reaching out to their managers if there is a stress-related issue or declining mental health and provide training for employers to be able to be empathetic, accommodating and respectful of mental health.
  • When working there is a sense of purpose, people feel they are valued and contributing to society – this supports recovery and positive well being whereas people who are unemployed have a greater risk for mental illness and poverty
  • Some people think because I have a mental illness I can not work or the stress of work will make me sicker but that is not case and the question above really acts as philosophical and controversial view of what some in our society perceives of mental illness
discussion table 2
Discussion Table # 2
  • What are some of the social and structural barriers that impact people’s mental health recovery?
  • What would be the essential elements for creating a country that is not just thriving, but sustainable and just for persons living with mental illness?

Table Responses (recorded directly from participant conversation)

  • Right level of support including affordable housing and access to basic needs such as food and clothing
  • Poverty and a lack of education, knowledge and stigma
  • Family dynamics and insight into mental illness including complex needs an multiple diagnoses/medications
  • Essential elements include strong government funding that carries with the individual throughout their recovery
  • Public education and awareness
  • Integrated support systems and better model for hospitalizations including partial stays
  • Quicker and comprehensive assessment and quality programs designed to move people towards sustainable jobs
  • Uniformity across the country and concerted effort including best practices
discussion table 3
Discussion Table # 3
  • How can we support each other in taking the next step?
  • What unique contribution can we each make to reduce the cycle of poverty and unemployment for persons with mental illness?

Table Responses (recorded directly from participant conversation)

  • Team work and togetherness – ensure the right people are at the right tables at the right time
  • Networking- more support for each other and honest sharing of information including success and not successful stories with clients and employers
  • Holistic or “one-stop” shop to care that includes all social determinants of health
  • Advocacy at all levels of government and lobby for collaboration between provinces
  • Sharing tangible information between service providers and bring people who can facilitate change
discussion table 4
Discussion Table # 4
  • What challenges could come our way and how might we meet them?
  • If our success was completely guaranteed what bold step might we choose?

Table Responses (recorded directly from participant conversation)

  • Challenges included self-confidence, losing income support, transportation
  • Community supports, subsidized day care
  • Increase in labour market awareness and changes in legislation
  • Inclusive education and better transition planning for people
  • Look towards ability not disability
  • Close institutions remaining operable in Country and have people living in community supported with comprehensive care plans
collective themes from conversation caf wrap up
Collective Themes from Conversation Café – wrap up
  • Greater collaboration
  • Need for accessibility to services, income supports, employment
  • Advocacy
  • Greater awareness and education on mental illness and its link to poverty
  • Open-mindfulness
  • Normalization
  • Individualization
  • Need for National strategy and concerted approach
  • Increase in resources if we want to decrease risk