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Thursday, August 17, 2017

August 17, 2017

 

For Immediate Release

 

Suicide Reports Show Urgency of Implementing All-Party Recommendations

 

Steve Kent, Health Critic for the Official Opposition and founding chair of the All-Party Committee on Mental Health and Addictions, said, “The reports of multiple suicides in Grand Bank and Labrador communities are troubling and show the urgency of implementing the recommendations of the All-Party Committee on Mental Health and Addictions to improve rural services and access to care."

 

“The Mayor of Grand Bank recently expressed alarm that six people in the town of 2,300 have taken their lives in the past 14 months. There were five suicides in Labrador West in eight months of 2016, and the Canadian Society of Circumpolar Health reported that Labrador suicide rates were 20 times higher for Inuit people and 14 times higher for Innu people compared to non-Indigenous rates in the province. This is heartbreaking, and begs our attention and intervention.”

 

“The All-Party Committee heard many stories about the issues people face and suggestions of what might be done. Working across party lines to make a real difference, we drew together a series of recommended actions we need to take. We need to keep referring to those recommendations when setting priorities so we actually start seeing changes in services and approaches. This can't wait. We need action now."

 

Kent said, “The committee provided detailed recommendations that will make a difference. We recommended immediate wait time reductions, community-based coalitions, regional interdisciplinary teams, a stepped-care approach that improves frontline access to care, services based in Labrador and reaching into coastal communities, land-based programming for Indigenous communities, school- and college-based frameworks, online information, access to specialized services, concerted action to eliminate the stigma of mental illness, and more. Government must act immediately, and with urgency. Too many lives have already been lost."

 

These and other relevant recommendations are included in the Backgrounder below.

 

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Media Contact: Heather MacLean, Director of Communications, Office of the Official Opposition

 

(709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca

 

Backgrounder

 

Some Recommendations of the All-Party Committee Report on Mental Health and Addictions

 

(“Towards Recovery: A Vision for a Renewed

 

Mental Health and Addictions System”)

 

March 2017

 

Link: http://www.health.gov.nl.ca/health/all_party_committe_report.pdf

 

Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention

 

2. Develop and implement a comprehensive school health and wellness framework that includes evidence-based mental health promotion, prevention and integrated, early intervention programs in schools, which:

 

• Focus on social and emotional learning;

 

• Are embedded in curriculum at every grade;

 

• Help students identify, understand and deal effectively with stress and anxiety; and,

 

• Include content on diversity, social inclusion, social determinants of health and stigma reduction.

 

3. Create regional interdisciplinary teams, reporting to the regional health authorities, to provide timely mental health and addictions assessment and treatment for students in schools.

 

4. Recommend the Premier’s Task Force on Improving Educational Outcomes review the roles of guidance counsellors, educational psychologists, social workers and instructional resource teachers (IRTs) to determine the best way to meet the mental health and addictions needs of students in the school setting and the resources required to do so.

 

5. Encourage post-secondary institutions to provide evidence-based mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention programs for students during orientation and at various points throughout their programs.

 

6. Encourage community leaders to form coalitions to promote mental wellness, encourage people to seek help and prevent suicide.

 

7. Eliminate the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness and addiction in health care settings, schools, workplaces and communities. This can be achieved through:

 

• Providing contact-based education programs that involve people with personal experience telling stories of recovery and are supported with rigorous evaluation and sustained funding; and,

 

• Encouraging increased uptake of Mental Health First Aid and expanding availability of this program throughout the province.

 

Access to Services

 

13. The Provincial Government must immediately ensure the reduction of wait lists and wait times in mental health for everyone by:

 

• Immediately directing the chief executive officer of each regional health authority to reduce the wait list and wait times for mental health and addictions services, including for psychiatrists (wait times not currently available for psychiatrists) within one year of the release of this report;

 

• Developing a wait time reduction action plan, which will include a plan to address no-show rates to better accommodate the challenges faced by some individuals in attending appointments;

 

• Adopting a standardized methodology for collecting and reporting wait times in all regional health authorities; and,

 

• Providing provincial oversight and regular public reporting on wait times and wait time reduction progress.

 

14. Through a stepped-care approach, develop and offer a range of mental health and addictions services integrated, wherever possible, within existing community and primary health care services throughout the province, including:

 

• Self-management programs for mental wellness, anxiety and depression;

 

• Counselling services;

 

• Strongest Families Program for children, youth and their families;

 

• Therapist-assisted, online, cognitive behavioural therapy for depression, anxiety and addictions;

 

• Peer support;

 

• Provincial Warm Line;

 

• 24/7 access to medical withdrawal management;

 

• Day treatment programs;

 

• Access to in-patient services for eating disorders;

 

• Single session walk-in clinics;

 

• Assertive community treatment (ACT) teams;

 

• Mobile crisis intervention teams;

 

• Dedicated mental health services for first responders, including ambulance personnel, firefighters, police officers and correctional staff; and,

 

• Support for families and caregivers of people living with mental illness and addiction.

 

20. Ensure primary health care providers have access to mental health and addictions consultation and specialized services for their patients.

 

21. Provide online information about the mental health and addictions services and how to navigate them.

 

Policy and Programming

 

34. Support Indigenous people to achieve their mental wellness goals by providing resources to assist with sustained land-based programming.

 

35. Ensure psychiatrists provide regular visits to Labrador coastal communities, as needed.

 

36. Establish four to six dedicated mental health beds in Labrador, which will include services that are inclusive and culturally appropriate for all Labradorians.

 

37. Prioritize the recruitment of two permanent full-time psychiatrists (while establishing a sustained commitment for regular locum coverage) to ensure psychiatric coverage for:

 

• New mental health beds in Labrador;

 

• Emergency departments in the Labrador Health Centre and Labrador West Health Centre; and,

 

• Out-patient clinics for Labrador West and Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

 

47. Develop specific provincial action plans for: …

 

• Suicide prevention, with the aim of reducing stigma and empowering communities to build resilience and inclusiveness.

 

Community Supports

 

49. Regional health authorities and community agencies must work more closely together to ensure smooth service delivery for individuals by:

 

• Strengthening existing partnerships (and creating ones where they do not formally exist) through regular communication, meetings and sharing education, strategic planning and other opportunities for engagement; and,

 

• Using change management principles to set the expectation that community agencies and regional health authorities share non-confidential information and consult each other on the evolving needs of individuals and how best to meet them.

 

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