About the Council
The membership of the Guiding Council is made up of representation from Ottawa based community, health and service networks working to respond to mental health crises; and public institutions that have mandated responsibilities to respond to mental health and substance use crises.
Our Journey so far
2021 was a call for action in our City. We were asked to deeply examine our responses to community members experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis. The starting point of our work was the convergence of several situations that magnified some of the weaknesses in our current mental health and substance use systems and recognized the need to place a diversity, race, and inclusion lens on all these systems. The key events included:
Recent Ottawa Police Service interventions in incidents involving community members, particularly Indigenous and Black members experiencing a mental health crisis, that resulted in injury or their deaths.
Consistent chronic underfunding of mental health and substance use services and programs.
A disproportionate and inappropriate reliance on police services to respond to the mental health and substance use crises.
The mobilization of the Black Lives Matter movement internationally that focused attention on the relationship between police and racialized communities, and locally the work of Justice for Abdi Coalition.
Chronic gaps in appropriate programs, services, and response strategies for Indigenous, Black and racialized community members.
A universal recognition that we can do better.
The Guiding Council follows the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. They are as follows:
Be impeccable with your word — Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
Don’t Take Anything Personally — Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
Don’t Make Assumptions — Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, and drama. With just this one agreement you can completely transform your life.
Always Do Your Best — Your best is going to change from moment to moment: it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.
Guiding Council Secretariat
To help take this important work forward, the Guiding Council created a Secretariat. Two directors lead the work of a team that includes a program coordinator and a research analyst. The full team was in place in mid-July and have so far interviewed and met with numerous organizations and individuals across Ottawa. The main community consultations will take place in the Fall, 2022. These consultations will give the team a base of feedback to help create recommendations for pilot projects. All the work is being done in tandem with a Reference Group of Persons with Lived and Living Experience, established in August.
Who makes up the Guiding Council?
The Membership of the Guiding Council is made up of representation from Ottawa-based community, health and social service networks working to respond to mental health crises; and public institutions that have mandated responsibilities to respond to mental health and substance use crises.
Terms of Reference
The Terms of Reference are intended to provide clarity on the roles and responsibilities that the Guiding Council members are assuming to support the development of Mental Health and Addictions Strategy in Ottawa with the first focus being on a 24/7 crisis response.
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