Our advocacy

Our Mental Health Advocacy

The Institute for Advancements in Mental Health (IAM) is actively engaged in systemic advocacy, policy reform, and government relations to improve life for Canadians who are impacted by mental illness.
In our beginnings as the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario, we conducted vital policy and advocacy work throughout Ontario for over 40 years. Today, we continue this important mission across Canada. Under our new expanded mandate as IAM we are committed to community engagement, empowerment and system change that directly draws upon the strengths of those affected by mental illness.

Working closely with a diverse portfolio of stakeholders including government officials across several ministries and jurisdictions, IAM has the expertise and the flexibility to bring innovative models into traditional spaces, disrupting the existing systems that have not led to widespread progress, and creating sustainable and effective change for people now, and in the future.

Current Initiatives:

The need for innovative solutions to mental health challenges:
IAM seeks to be a leader in endorsing and advocating for a culture of innovation and collaboration across the Canadian mental health space. Increased investment is needed to expand on IAM’s ability, and that of other mental health innovators to ensure societies become more conducive places to live, recover and thrive in.

Community-based mental health services and supports:
We work to make connections between government, community-based organizations, businesses and individuals to work together to design creative and effective solutions to support those impacted by mental illness and to enhance the coordination of services across the health care system.

IAM is a strong advocate for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) designed specifically for psychosis. We advocate for the expansion of programs like our own which deliver CBT to populations with specialized needs and which are co-designed with stakeholders from across the health and social services sectors among others. Additionally, we support the expansion and forward progress of a range of community-based treatments and supports including counselling, psychotherapy, psychosocial and rehabilitative programs, peer support, mobile crisis teams and more!

Caregiver support:
At IAM, caregivers are a vital part of everything we do. We pride ourselves on our ability to deliver projects and prototypes that are built on human-centred design principles and co-created with the individuals we aim to serve. We advocate for recognition and practical and financial support for caregivers who are often called upon to fill gaps in health and social services systems in order to care for their relatives who experience mental illness.

Social inclusion:
Social inclusion can be defined as the ability to fully participate in society and it is instrumental to mental health recovery. Unfortunately, for many people with mental illness, social inclusion remains elusive. IAM works with sector partners to advocate for inventive approaches to income security, employment supports and supportive housing which offer more than just a source of support but where people can define their individual recovery and resiliency to live a meaningful life.

Justice and mental health:
Individuals with mental illness are over-represented in the criminal justice system. To strengthen the work that is being done on reforming corrections, IAM advocates for creative approaches and investment in programs that divert people with mental illness out of the criminal justice system. Additionally, we advocate for modernization and advancement within correctional institutions, including an end to the practice of segregation.

Access to treatment:
Mental illness is commonly treated with pharmaceutical interventions that often involve a lengthy process of trial and error to find the best-suited medication(s) to address symptoms. Yet, consistent access to affordable and effective medications can be challenging due to costs associated with filling a prescription and the complex system of public and private drug plans.

IAM leverages a diverse network of partners including patients, caregivers, regulatory bodies and industry to promote equitable and affordable access to medications

Past initiatives
Over the years, we have taken on a number of advocacy issues including hallway healthcare, mental health among refugee claimants, mental health laws, legal aid, conviction records, police record checks, the legalization of cannabis, and so much more!

For more information on our current and past initiatives, contact [email protected]

How you can be involved:
Become a part of our Advocacy Coalition! By joining the Coalition you will:
  • Stay informed about current national, provincial and local mental health initiatives
  • Hear from IAM about ways you can be involved in advocacy and provide input into policy
  • Learn more about effective advocacy strategies
  • Be part of a common initiative and make a difference
To sign up to receive information about emerging issues and advocacy opportunities, email [email protected] with the subject line “Advocacy Coalition” or call 1-800-449-6367.