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Statement from health minister and Deputy Premier on mental health and mental illness in NL

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Any opportunity to bring awareness and discussion to mental health and addictions is positive.

We recognize that one of the greatest challenges in living with a mental illness or addiction is the stigma associated with it, which often keeps individuals and families from reaching out for support and services. Access to timely and appropriate care and supports is essential. So is addressing issues of stigma and discrimination and creating awareness in society at large, in our health care settings and in our workplaces.

I am well aware and concerned about the challenges people with mental health and addictions issues face, and I am committed to our work to advance the delivery of services. While we have made progress, I recognize that work remains to be done to ensure those in need have access to services.

A new provincial mental health and addictions strategy is a top priority for me and our government, and we are committed to developing a new plan for the people of the province. Mental health and addictions affects each and every one of us. The impacts on individuals, families and communities are profound and we need to work together to make things better.

The turnout at the forum is evidence that awareness is growing and that people are becoming more comfortable and open about discussing the issues despite the stigma that still exists. These conversations need to happen.

While we have made considerable investments in mental health and addictions over the past number of years, we realize that there is still so much work to be done including work to:

o create awareness and reduce stigma,
o prevent mental health problems before they occur,
o identify and intervene early with children and youth,
o create better access to the range services across the lifespan especially in rural and remote areas and
o engage those with lived experience and support family members.

I am committed to working with the groups and organizations that demonstrated their leadership and commitment at the launch of the community coalition, and I value their input on how to create change. We know it will take a concerted effort and we want to move forward together.

Our government is aware of the profound effect that mental health and addictions issues have on individuals, families and our communities. We will continue to make significant investments in mental health and addictions services in the province to ensure individuals have access to these services when and where needed.

Our government provides approximately $100 million annually for mental health and addictions programs and services provided by the four regional health authorities.

There are almost 950 women and men working in our mental health and addictions programs in the four regional health authorities who deliver important programs and services to support individuals who have an addiction or experience mental health issues.

We provide over $1 million annually to ten community agencies who provide mental health and addictions services.

This past spring, the Provincial Government launched the campaign, Understanding Changes Everything, aimed at challenging, and ultimately changing the way people think and act toward individuals with a mental illness or addiction.

There are many choices for people who need help with mental health and addictions including:

o self-help and peer support groups,
o family physicians,
o outpatient counseling,
o inpatient services,
o outreach programs,
o a 24-hour crisis hotline, and
o emergency services provided by the regional health authorities.

The Provincial Health Line also provides information on services offered by community groups and regional or provincial offices.

We have four provincial addictions centres:

o The Recovery Centre – inpatient withdrawal management services
o The Rowan Centre – adolescent addictions services
o The Opioid Treatment Centre – for methadone treatment services
o Humberwood Treatment Centre – currently the only provincial residential treatment facility

The Mental Health Crisis Line is a free, 24-hour confidential telephone crisis line service available to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. The line is staffed with professionals trained to help deal with crisis and suicidal thoughts. The team will provide the caller with support, explore solutions and connect them with the necessary supports and services.

We have a Mobile Crisis Response (MCR) Team within the St. John’s region, comprised of psychiatric nurses, LPNs and mental health social workers, who travel as a team to assist/intervene with mental health related crisis, directly in a person’s home or community.

There are approximately 59 outpatient counseling offices located throughout the province.

There are three Assertive Community Treatment Teams in the province for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness who require long term support.

There are approximately 20 case managers in rural areas of the province who provide specialized mental health services.

There are approximately 20 youth outreach workers throughout the province who engage with at risk youth within their communities and provide education, support and referrals to services when necessary.

Outreach and Promotion/Prevention Services offers mental health and addictions outreach and promotion/prevention services to individuals, families and groups.

There are approximately 66 psychiatrists practicing in this province. This number has grown over the past 10 years and meets the per capita benchmarks for psychiatrists established by the Canadian Psychiatric Association. The majority practice within the Eastern region so we are focusing on how to extend their reach to rural areas through the use of telehealth.

Each RHA offers emergency mental health services.

The Provincial Government has developed two new youth treatment centres in Grand Falls-Windsor and Paradise that will provide services not previously available in this province, keeping youth who need help closer to home and their families.

The Grand Falls-Windsor centre provides treatment for youth with addictions and has recently begun seeing clients.

The Paradise centre will provide treatment for youth with complex mental health needs.

The Provincial Government is also developing a new adult addictions treatment centre in Harbour Grace and is moving forward with the replacement of the Waterford Hospital, recently announcing the site selection on the current hospital grounds and issuing a tender to begin initial site preparation.

This is likely more information than you want or need, but I thought it might be helpful.

Thanks,
Steve

STEVE KENT, M.H.A.
District of Mount Pearl North
Deputy Premier
Minister of Health and Community Services
Minister Responsible for the Office of Public Engagement
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
tel: +1.709.729.3124
fax: +1.709.364.1639

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