Responding to Mental Illness in Condominium Communities

Responding to Mental Illness in Condominium Communities

On April 15, 2016, Brookfield distributed a paper entitled “Responding to Mental Illness in Condominium Corporations.”  The paper was written in response to an apparent increase in scenarios involving mental illness in our condominium communities.  Both managers and boards found such scenarios to be frustrating and draining.  Guidance and resources were required.

As a property manager or a board of directors, dealing with mental illness is exceptionally difficult and trying.  As challenging as it may be for us, we need to understand that it will be far more difficult for the person suffering from mental illness.  This borrowed metaphor may appear harsh, but expecting rapid compliance or resolution in a scenario involving mental illness is like asking a quadriplegic to climb several flights of stairs. It will not happen, notwithstanding expectations and intentions.

We know that residents who are disturbed by the behaviour of a mentally-ill resident will expect quick action by the board and management to end it.  However, the Ontario Human Rights Act and the over-arching duty to accommodate physical and mental disabilities will require accommodation efforts to the point of undue hardship.  Even where a resident’s behaviour is dangerous to him/herself or others, quick resolution is unlikely (but not impossible). 

Our paper offers five recommendations.

  1. Get trained on mental health first aid (for the benefit of the responder and the respondee).
  2. Adopt a Human Rights policy for your condominium corporation (Appendix 7).
  3. Adopt a Workplace Violence & Harassment policy for your condominium corporation (Appendix 6).
  4. Encourage residents (family or caregivers) to request accommodation and follow a defined process to deal with accommodation requests quickly and non-judgementally. Document everything.
  5. Turn to enforcement action if dangerous behaviours are involved and/or accommodation options are exhausted.  Document everything.

We hope this paper will help condominium managers and directors recognize mental illness, use established policies and procedures to reduce risk, de-escalate situations, encourage access to professional resources and engage other supports like family, friends and community associations.  It contains:

  • An overview on mental illness
  • Direction on training options
  • A discussion of legal considerations
  • Guidance on accommodating mental illness

 

  • Guidance on Condo Act enforcement action (when accommodation is no longer possible)
  • Recommendations
  • Resources (including a list of mental health resources for very municipality in the GTA,  sample policy statements, forms for recording accommodation efforts, and dozens of links).

 

The paper is available in our E-Portal by searching for “Mental” or by navigating to Servicing Clients > Physical Management > Building Maintenance > White Papers.

Subsequent to the release of the paper, on May 14/15 a group of property managers, senior managers, security industry representatives, and condominium lawyers attended a 2-day/12-hour Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) certification course provided by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC).  Lessons from the workshop will be shared with all our managers. All of our condominium communities are encouraged to have staff and directors attend the course which is offered widely throughout the GTA.