The following article has been re-posted from the Guelph Mercury and was written by Clear Path's medical consultant Victoria Mummery in response to the article "Well-Being Initiative Enters Third Phase":
I noted with great interest the May 14 Mercury story "Well-being initiative enters its next phase."
As a health-care professional working for many years with adult mental health issues, I have witnessed the devastating impact of illness on personal, family and work life. My partner is a high school teacher and repeatedly sees teenagers who are unable to take advantage of resources being offered to them because of personal and/or family mental health issues. They become adults with mental health problems, further taxing the system.
This article reported that 75 per cent of calls to police are for mental health issues, and that five per cent of the population use more than 65 per cent of health care dollars. These are incredible statistics.
It is logical from this that front-line workers — such as police, teachers and emergency medical service (EMS) professionals — are in an essential position to determine health and social needs and to arrange appropriate care to prevent future criminal and other catastrophic activity. This is so much more cost effective than dealing with criminal activity and health crisis.
The Guelph Wellbeing Initiative involves sectors such as public health, police, the City of Guelph and other health care professionals working together to take a preventive approach to health and security of city residents. Already, they see evidence of improved life and cost saving.
As outlined on the web page guelphwellbeing.ca, Guelph is Canada's first municipality to align with the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, a pan-Canadian initiative focused on community wellbeing.
There have been a number of local initiatives, including the paper "Addressing Social Determinants of Health in the City of Guelph" published in 2013, as well as the HealthJam hosted by the City of Guelph on May 14 and 15. These are more examples of the exceptional mayor, council and city staff that we have in Guelph. They are able to step away from everyday life and see the cost-effectiveness of promoting health and preventing unnecessary suffering and illness.
My family and friends in London, Ont., and Toronto frequently express jealousy about the fabulous leadership we have in Guelph, as compared to mayors like London's Joe Fontana and Toronto's Rob Ford, who do not appear to have big-picture thinking, and appear to make their leadership a personal quest and ego trip.
Guelph is famous internationally for initiatives in waste management, low unemployment, has been declared among Canada's most romantic cities two years in row, has a low crime rate — all this with tax levels that are average or below average compared to other cities of comparable size.
Now, Guelph is a leader in having police, health and other sectors working together to promote early and effective intervention in mental and other health issues.
Many people say Guelph is the best place to live and I believe this is in large part related to the great leadership and local collaboration we have. Here we have another example of Guelph being number one in leading the usage of the well-being index to drive positive community change allowing people of Guelph to achieve better quality of life.
Victoria Mummery is a registered nurse and a self-employed Guelph health care consultant.
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