New video showcases justice system work around the province

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TORONTO, March 8, 2017 - Sixty-five to seventy per cent of young people in the youth justice system were found to meet the criteria for at least one mental health disorder. Rates of trauma, developmental disorders, intellectual disabilities, acquired brain injuries, and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are also over-represented in this population. Sadly, many of these issues go unrecognized and undiagnosed.

Police spend 75 to 85 per cent of their calls on social service-related issues. “These are large and complex challenges that can’t be tackled by one sector alone,” said Tania Breton, Justice Lead with the Provincial System Support Program (PSSP) at CAMH.

“Dealing with mental health challenges and being justice-involved creates a dual stigma that often creates barriers in accessing services. It is crucial that communities address these key transition gaps collaboratively in the system to create healthier care pathways for everyone.”

Together with community partners, PSSP created a new justice video highlighting those transition points from police contact, to the court room, to reintegration. The six-minute video takes viewers around the province to four communities that are making a difference through the Systems Improvement through Service Collaborative (SISC) initiative.

“The examples in the video demonstrate the power of cross-sector collaboration as a true catalyst for improving the health and overall well-being of clients and communities,” said Marg Connor, Acting Director, Mental Health and Addictions Branch, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. “They also provide lessons learned from communities that can help us develop policies and incentives to encourage and maintain collaboration.” 

SISC was launched in 2012 with coordination from six ministries and funding from the Government of Ontario. PSSP sponsored 18 Service Collaboratives, providing implementation support to local communities, such as health equity and engagement, knowledge exchange, coaching and evaluation.

“This is where an organization like CAMH brings their expertise to the community partners and just removes barriers,” said JoAnn Miller-Reid, former Assistant Deputy Minister, Youth Justice Services Division, Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

Keeping Youth out of the Justice System

In the Champlain region, Intersections has helped 400 children, youth and their families over the last two years, and is being expanded to three other communities. The intervention is easy to use: police who receive calls for social service or mental health and addictions related incidents offer a voluntary referral to the Intersections program. An Intersections worker then supports the child, youth and family to find the right support services within their community.

Though programs like Intersections are working upstream to keep young people out of the justice system, those with mental health and/or addictions challenges who do become justice-involved may end up in the court room.

Screening for Proper Care

The Niagara Youth Justice Service Collaborative decided there was a more efficient way to serve youth in the justice system by bringing a team of service providers and resources together on the same day and time as youth court appearances.

“All of the resources are there and [the screening team] can identify which ones are the most appropriate immediately on the first court date, and make progress almost by the second court date, which was almost unheard of before we had the screening team,” said Legal Aid Niagara, Lawyer Manager, Elizabeth Cassavoy.

Trauma-informed practices

Finding better ways to serve justice-involved populations is a driver behind the implementation of trauma-informed practices: approaching any situation with an awareness that you will never know what someone’s experience of trauma has been.

For police and service providers, this lens is invaluable, which is why the Kenora-Rainy River Service Collaborative implemented standardized trauma-informed practices and protocols across their vast geography and system.

“It really opens the door to greater understanding,” said Kenora Ontario Provincial Police Constable Bob Bernie.

Rejoining the community

The fourth community featured in the video showcases an adult-focused reintegration intervention. The Toronto Justice Service Collaborative partnered with the John Howard Society’s Reintegration Centre to develop tools and evaluation processes that helped enhance the hub-based service and referral centre for men leaving the new Toronto South Detention Centre. 

“The video marks an exciting opportunity to reflect on the past success and future opportunities for system improvement work in the province,” noted Breton.

“These four communities are creating positive change where the justice, mental health and addictions systems intersect,” said Lori Spadorcia, VP of Communications and Partnerships, CAMH. “I look forward to seeing these efforts continue to expand to other regions in the province.”

Click the link below to watch the video


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