The publication draws upon contemporary mental health research, established best practices and relevant case studies from more than 20 Commonwealth jurisdictions, including: the United Kingdom, Australian Capital Territory, Malaysia, Northern Ireland, Canada, Northern Territory, Gauteng, Victoria, Québec, Ontario, Manitoba, Isle of Man, Tasmania and Guernsey.
Featuring guidance on several elements of effective mental health promotion, the CPA toolkit sets out options for implementing screening processes, initiatives to address common workplace issues, organisational support systems and self-help resources.
It also considers the impact of COVID-19 on the response of Parliaments to mental health issues. The pandemic has increased risk factors such as financial insecurity, and disrupted protective factors such as social connection, access to physical exercise, and daily routine, triggering a global decline in overall mental health.
Introducing the CPA toolkit, Hon. Louisa Wall MP, a founding member of a cross-party mental health support group in the New Zealand Parliament, thanked the CPA for “providing a resource to specifically address parliamentary workplace stresses and challenges.” She added that:
“We need to better understand the risk factors and the protective factors to keep ourselves and those we work with mentally fit and well to undertake our duties as parliamentary representatives.”
The CPA Secretary-General, Stephen Twigg, said:
“The CPA recognises the impact that COVID-19 has had on mental health over the past two years. I encourage Commonwealth Parliaments to utilise this new CPA toolkit to support and improve their work on the mental health and wellbeing of their Members of Parliament and parliamentary staff.”
The new toolkit supports the CPA’s commitment to, and contribution towards, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the Commonwealth Charter. It has been produced under the auspices of the Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities (CPwD) network, in recognition of the fact that, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the CPA Headquarters Secretariat recognises long-term mental health issues as disabilities.
The Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities (CPwD) network, within the wider Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, facilitates activities and programmes to champion and increase the representation of persons with disabilities in Commonwealth Parliaments and works towards the mainstreaming of disability considerations in all CPA activities and programmes. The network supports elected representatives with disabilities in 180 Parliaments and Legislatures across the Commonwealth and ensures that issues of persons with disabilities are brought to the fore in parliamentary debate and legislation.
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