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Health and Community Services
April 19, 2011

Progressive Steps Taken to Enhance Mental Health and Addictions Services

Those living with mental health and addictions issues will be further supported in Budget 2011 with an investment of approximately $8.7 million to increase awareness and ensure services are strengthened throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Mental illness and addictions affect people of all ages, cultures, educational backgrounds and income levels and have a significant impact on individuals, families and our communities,” said the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Health and Community Services. “This is a very serious and complex issue, and our investments through Budget 2011 are intended to help reduce the stigma associated with mental health and addictions issues and encourage people to seek help.”

Investing in Mental Health Infrastructure
Budget 2011 signals the beginning of a new era in the delivery of mental health services through an investment of $4.5 million to begin the replacement of the Waterford Hospital with a new, specialized mental health facility in St. John’s. This funding is for initial planning of the new facility.

“The issues and challenges of mental illness are not new, but many of the ways in which we plan to address them are,” said Minister Kennedy. “A new mental health facility will help promote recovery, reduce stress and depression, support independence and overall contribute to better outcomes for achieving mental wellness.”

The new specialized mental health facility will support a modernization of the approach to treating those with mental illness. The new facility will provide a more functional floor plan and efficient inpatient units that meet current space standards. It will also reduce the maintenance costs associated with the current facility, better meet programming needs and allow for future growth.

Enhancing Awareness and Access to Mental Health and Addictions Services
One of the biggest challenges in advancing mental health and addictions issues is the stigma associated with them. The Provincial Government is working to demystify mental health, create awareness and promote understanding by the public. Through an investment of $1 million, the Provincial Government will implement three new initiatives for this purpose:

  • Development of an interactive, web-based e-mental health service. This is an innovative and engaging method that creates greater access and service delivery of mental health services in areas that are geographically isolated;
  • Enhancement to tele-mental health services to increase rural and remote access to mental health and addictions counselling; and,
  • Creation of a provincial public awareness campaign to decrease the stigma and discrimination attached to mental illness and addictions and increase understanding of how and when to seek help.

“We know that one in five people suffers from some form of mental illness and it is estimated that by 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability in the world, after heart disease,” said Minister Kennedy. “There are many ways that we can support people living with mental health and addictions issues and much of it begins with increasing our understanding of the issues and providing access for those who need help.”

Increasing Rural Capacity
Through an investment of $3.2 million, the Provincial Government will increase its rural capacity to address mental health and addictions issues.

Budget 2011 includes an investment of $2.2 million to place five, full-time mental health and addictions counsellors in Nain, Hopedale, Makkovik, and Natuashish and to provide the necessary accommodations and supports. These counsellors, by living in the communities, will provide greater access to services for individuals dealing with issues of suicide, substance abuse, violence and depression within the Aboriginal communities.

“Mental health and addictions issues can affect anyone at any time in their lives,” said Minister Kennedy. “Aboriginal communities often face significant challenges related to mental health and addictions. Our government recognizes these challenges, and through investments in Budget 2011 is providing the necessary resources to properly address these complex issues.”

Other investments include:

  • $402,900 for enhanced programming and the addition of two rural case managers for adults in Placentia and Bonne Bay, bringing the complement of adult case managers across the province to 20, as well as two rural case managers for youth to be located in Corner Brook and Grand Falls-Windsor;
  • $195,300 for two intake workers to oversee and manage mental health and addictions referrals in Labrador West and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, decreasing wait times and enhancing response to referrals for services;
  • $180,000 will be provided to the Canadian Mental Health Association – Newfoundland and Labrador Division to establish and staff two regional offices, one in Stephenville and one Grand Falls-Windsor;
  • $140,000 will be provided to Consumer Health Awareness Network of Newfoundland and Labrador (CHANNAL) to hire four peer support positions for the community mental health system, in the central and western regions; and,
  • $76,000 will be provided to Choices for Youth for its “Moving Forward” program.

“Making strategic investments in the area of mental health and addictions services will provide both immediate and long-term benefits to the province,” said Minister Kennedy. “By making investments in new infrastructure, community groups, programs, workers and innovative delivery models, we are making an investment in the health of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.”

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Jennifer Tulk
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 699-6524


2011 04 19                                                                            2:30 p.m.

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