LAO launches mental health training for its criminal lawyers

JULY 8, 2016

On July 7, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) launched its new mental health training for about 25 selected representatives from across the province who will act as regional mental health leads in their respective criminal courts.

The training touched on several key topics such as: the foundation and history of mental health advocacy in Canada, understanding disability, effective communication and accommodation skills, and mental wellness in the profession.

The training included presentations from community mental health providers Sound Times, the Empowerment Council, and Connex Ontario, Legal Aid lawyers, and mental health professionals, including CMHA’s own Mark Henick, national program manager for Mental Health Works. The training touched on several key topics such as: the foundation and history of mental health advocacy in Canada, understanding disability, effective communication and accommodation skills, and mental wellness in the profession.

LAO plans to continue delivering this program to all of its lawyers, across all disciplines, including family law and immigration/refugee law, as part of its broader Mental Health Strategy, launched earlier this year.

The mental health training is part of LAO’s Criminal Practice Support Program, which focuses on quality improvement approaches for lawyers who help clients with mental health issues. It also includes a comprehensive resource manual which lawyers can readily access to support their advocacy and connect clients with the most appropriate mental health resources.

CMHA Ontario partnered with LAO on the creation of the resource manual as well as providing the Mental Health Works training program. We look forward to continued collaboration with LAO and providing our support for wellness in the legal profession.