This blog is part of a 7-part series about Mental Health in England. Check out the links below to read other blogs in this series.

The National Health System (NHS) in England, a body similar to our own Ministry of Health in Ontario, was given 20% reduction target for carbon emissions by its National government. One way the NHS is addressing this target is by looking at the environmental impact of its various contracted service providers such as Derbyshire Healthcare. Derbyshire has a detailed CO2 reduction strategy in place that includes encouraging staff to bike to work, smart metering and mandatory green energy training for mental health staff. Their annual report, in reference to its emissions chart, states that: “…as can be seen from the Trust Emissions’ line on the following graph, we are ahead of the trajectory set for the NHS reduction target”. In Ontario the Green Energy Act 2009 requires public agencies like our hospital to report on their Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions annually.

Implications For Niagara

No one can argue that CO2 reduction is a bad thing; neither is pay equity, or anti bullying strategies, or a host of other generic issues in our society. Good mental health is related to a complex interplay of environmental and other issues and there is great benefit to our staff (e.g. implementing pay equity legislation).

Regardless of this interplay, as a service provider, our main duty and funding model is to provide therapeutic services. We are funded solely and directly for service and all other functions are supplementary and never considered in the funding model. Administration dollars are bare bones and meant to cover only the basic supervision of staff and not all of the extra responsibilities that are thrown at service agencies. When “bad stuff” happens in our society, such as pollution, discrimination, harassment; the politically easy way out is to download the costs. They end up at the direct service level, seriously affecting the continued viability of small agencies like ours.

Harassment and bullying was one example of a hospital incident from Windsor that created a province wide mandatory policy, monitoring implications and training directives for all of us. Environmental concerns and smog emission controls for community agencies are not far behind. What is next on the horizon and how can we maintain our integrity and our focus as service providers? We are not experts on everything so how can we work together? Are there new unexplored alliances that can help us deal with all of the exigencies?

George Kurzawa
Executive Director
Canadian Mental Health Assocation, Niagara Branch

Other Blogs In This Series:

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