CMHA Oxford urging local residents to sign the Erase the Difference petition against underfunding in the mental health sector
In a community where mental health concerns have been on the forefront, one local agency is urging residents to speak out.
“I think we’re well aware that suicide rates in Oxford County have not changed significantly in recently years,” said Mike McMahon, executive director of the Oxford County Canadian Mental Health Association. “We have, like every other community in Canada, an unhealthy level of suicide.
"We want to build a suicide safe community where people are able to talk about mental health and their thoughts and feelings. And young people can bring their feeling forward to capable and caring adults.”
CMHA’s across the province are asking local residents to go online to erasethedifference.ca and sign a petition to let provincial candidates know the need for funding mental health and addictions care in the same way as physical health care.
Last year Ontario devoted 6.5 per cent of a total $54-billion budget to mental health and addictions.
Underfunding, McMahan said, means the system is ill equipped when people come looking for help. If they reach a crisis point, they may end up in ER or involved with the justice system.
“What we have heard from our clients is the feeling that there isn’t enough (resources) for where to go to find help,” McMahon said. “We know there is shortage in the system. That’s why we are campaigning to erase the difference.”
On Sunday June 24, Ride Don’t Hide returns to Oxford County and the organizing committee is inviting the community to help launch the event on Saturday, May 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be a BBQ at the Foodland in Woodstock, and two committee members will be riding stationary bikes to raise awareness of the ride. All proceeds and donations will go towards Ride Don’t Hide Oxford.
Ride Don’t Hide in Oxford County helps to support programs at Canadian Mental Health Association Oxford, such as Walk-In Counselling. Ride Don’t Hide Oxford has raised over $50,000 in the last three years, which has helped to keep Walk-In Counselling free and accessible to everyone in Oxford County.