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Government Responds To Mental-Health Task Force Report

by NationTalk on September 29, 2009673 Views

Sept. 29, 2009

FREDERICTON (CNB) – The provincial government released today its formal response to the New Brunswick Mental Health Task Force report, Together into the future: a transformed mental-health-system for New Brunswick, also known as the McKee Report.”Our government has heard the recommendations contained in the McKee Report and accepts the themes and issues identified,” said Health Minister Mary Schryer. “We have heard the impassioned response of more than 2,000 stakeholders who made presentations to the task force, and we have already started working to address these recommendations.”

To respond to thematic subject areas of the McKee report, the Department of Health will undertake a number of initiatives, including:

• the department will increase its operating funding provided to 26 community-based mental-health activity centres by close to $200,000, starting this fiscal year. This initiative is intended to better support existing community resources;

• the department will support Regional Health Authority (RHA) A to improve pediatric psychiatric service through the use of tele-psychiatry. This initiative is intended to better address the service and support needs of children and youth with mental illness. It is also intended to better serve children and youth in their home communities; and

• the department will appoint a new mental-health and primary care consultant to work closely with provincial First Nations communities. This initiative is intended to better respond to the needs of New Brunswick’s Aboriginal population. It is also intended to improve collaboration and co-ordination of service delivery.

“This response aligns with other government initiatives to improve mental-health services in our province, including Reducing the risk, addressing the need: Being responsive to at-risk and highly complex children and youth, as well as initiatives to combat poverty and improve access to social housing,” said Schryer.

Also included in the formal response:

• the Department of Health has taken steps to improve integration among key provincial departments including itself, Social Development, Public Safety, Education and Justice and Consumer Affairs;

• the Department of Health will create a task group with representation from stakeholders such as the two regional health authorities, non-governmental agencies, families, and persons with mental illness to develop standardized criteria for recovery-oriented assessment and referral tools;

• the Department of Health will emphasize a recovery-based approach to assessment and treatment. The essential features will include communicating optimism to persons with mental illness, developing skills and knowledge so they may take personal responsibility for their health, and supporting their efforts to regain control over their lives;

• a new mental-health strategy will be developed and finalized in the spring of 2010. The strategy will be built on a holistic view, recognizing the interrelation of government systems, communities, families and at its core, the person with mental illness.

“The task force spelled out a number of recommendations to build on existing strengths within the mental-health-care-system so that persons with mental illness may have the means to participate in their recovery, lead purposeful lives and contribute to their communities,” said Schryer. “This vision will become the foundation of New Brunswick’s forthcoming mental-health-care-strategy, expected in spring 2010.”

In May 2008, the provincial government created the New Brunswick Mental-Health Task Force, headed by Judge Michael McKee of Moncton. The task force held public consultations around the province. In February 2009, the task force released its findings in Together into the future: a transformed mental-health-system for New Brunswick.

In advance of the task force report, the provincial government had implemented a number of initiatives to improve the delivery of mental-health services, including:

• a new psychiatric hospital complex to replace the aging Restigouche Hospital Centre in Campbellton;
• consolidating the RHA structure to improve efficiencies and clinical integration;
• integration of mental-health and addictions services through-cross training and common intake and assessment; and
• the piloting of mobile crisis teams to improve access to mental-health services.

The official response document is available on the Department of Health Website


EDITOR’S NOTE: Health Minister Mary Schryer will be available to the media to discuss the provincial government’s response to the Mental Health Task Force report at 10 a.m. TODAY on the 5th floor of HSBC Place, 520 King St., Fredericton. MEDIA CONTACT: Meghan Cumby, communications, Department of Health, 506-457-3522.

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