Intersection of Mental Health and the Law

Project Name

Through A Mental Health Lens: Training in the Intersection of Mental Health and Legal Issues

Project Partners

Lead Agencies: Huron Women’s Shelter Second Stage Housing and Counseling Services; Domestic Assault Review Team of Huron County; Huron/Perth Community Legal Clinic; ARCH Disability Law Centre

Project Summary

This project will train front line staff working in violence against women services as well as other grass roots community agencies on the intersection of the legal system with mental health issues and systems. Huron County covers a large rural area with a few small towns and a number of even smaller hamlets. The training will be offered to staff of the local DART or Domestic Violence Review Team (violence against women service workers from a wide range of sectors) as well as food bank volunteers, religious leaders, victim service organizations and police. Legal information training will be provided by Huron Perth Community Legal Services as well as ARCH Disability Law Centre.

Legal Topics for Training

The training will focus on critical areas of law that those with mental health issues confront such as income support, housing, criminal justice etc. This training will provide information to assist workers and community leaders to understand these key areas of the law through a mental health lens.  There will be an emphasis on the autonomy of the person experiencing mental health issues.

The basic legal information to be covered will include:

  • housing law
  • income support programs (Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program)
  • police powers
  • legal capacity (including consent to treatment)

The goal of the training will be to provide front line workers with basic legal knowledge regarding issues and challenges that may arise when working with people who experience mental health issues. As well, participants will learn key referral information that will help them navigate available community resources

Target Audience

The target community includes persons providing services to rural communities located in Huron County.

Key Activities

The training will be delivered via face-to-face workshop sessions that will be offered across the county in at least three locations.

Need for Training

Huron is a large rural county with substantial barriers to effective service provision. A key challenge is that there is no real public transportation system; even a small distance can pose insurmountable obstacles to people needing help. As is common in rural communities, Huron County has a relatively small number of community agencies. Given this reality, the county is in an excellent position to work collaboratively, learn together and identify ways to support each other. This kind of joint training will enable agencies with different mandates to work together through the training to develop clear lines of communication and collaboration. The training will be invaluable in making the existing network of services and resources as accessible as possible to as many people as possible.

Innovative Approach

The project will provide an opportunity for front line workers to build their knowledge of legal issues that are faced by those marginalized by reason of experiencing mental health issues. The reality is that many individuals are facing these issues, although there is relatively little attention to bringing these areas of work together. All too often we are working in silos – this project hopes to change that.