Mental health review recommends changes to improve access
Published Monday, February 22, 2016 1:47PM MST
Last Updated Monday, February 22, 2016 6:52PM MST
The Valuing Mental Health report is part of the new provincial government’s promise to review mental health programs.
More than 30recommendations were made, but implementation will only begin immediately on these recommendations:
- new medical detoxification beds for adults in Lethbridge and Red Deer
- expanded access to additional treatment for children and youth in Calgary
- a plan to work in partnership with First Nations to develop an opiate addictions action plan
- a new mental health website for children and youth
- a plan to monitor the implementation of the recommendations
- establishing a team to work with community and health partners to coordinate implementation of the report
Sarah Hoffman, Alberta Health Minister, admits that meeting all of the recommendations will be an expensive undertaking but she's optimistic her government will find the money.
“We're certainly being very diligent about addressing where the highest pressures are,” she said. “I think that's one of the things governments are elected to do is set priorities and make sure they monitor the implications of choices they're making and the Premier has made it clear that's part of my job moving forward.”
The report calls for co-ordination between several government departments including justice, family and social services and mental health to meet these recommendations.
Health care agencies say the recommendations are desperately needed at all levels.
“If you look at all the adult mental health issues, and those issues that are embedded in mental health in terms of addictions, homelessness, crime, the prisons are full of people with mental health issues, we know that in close to 75 percent of those cases, it starts off in early childhood,” said George Ghitan, Hull Services.
“If we look at the available systems out there, I think there are plenty, but the reality is that they don’t work together and they don’t talk to each other and we are not efficient and we’re not effective, and to me it’s not just keep throwing money into the fire, it’s looking at how we do this work differently,” said Sheldon Kennedy, sexual abuse prevention advocate.
The first six recommendations of the report will cost about $4.5 million.