Mental health: equip staff to handle conflict properly

  • June 14, 2021
sad woman sitting in stairs

The complaint

A woman with a mental disorder had been receiving services from a community organization. After a conflict occurred, she was expelled. As she saw it, the caseworker who asked her to leave had disrespected her. She complained to the Québec Ombudsman.

The context

  • A woman attended a community organization that provides services to people with mental disorders.   
  • One day, she had an argument with a caseworker, who ordered her to not return for a certain time.
  • The citizen felt that she had not deserved expulsion and that the caseworker had disrespected her.

What the investigation showed

  • The Québec Ombudsman saw that after the woman was expelled, measures were taken to resolve the situation. The caseworker was reminded of her obligations, especially concerning respect towards service users. In addition, the organization continued offering the woman certain services despite the temporary expulsion. The Québec Ombudsman applauds these initiatives.
  • However, the investigation showed that the organization had no procedure for such situations. The staff were not properly equipped to intervene.
  • The Québec Ombudsman felt that community organizations must have a procedure that provides for any required sanctions based on the gravity of the misbehaviour. Repeated misbehaviour and past sanctions must be taken into account in determining what should happen. The procedure would enable staff to make informed decisions that respect the rights of those concerned. The procedure must also include ways for the people involved to provide their version of the events.

The outcome

The Québec Ombudsman recommended that the organization produce a procedure for handling prohibited behaviours. The procedure is now being applied by the staff concerned.

The Québec Ombudsman ensures that your rights are upheld in your dealings with Québec public services. Are you dissatisfied with the services of a Government of Québec department or agency? Or with those of a health and social services network institution (2nd level of recourse)? File a complaint with the Québec Ombudsman by calling 1-800-463-5070 or use our online complaint form.