‘Reclaiming Hope’ to Support At-risk Youth Provincewide
December 15, 2008
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Province Unveils Four-year, $8-million Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy
The province will invest more than $8 million over four years to help prevent youth suicide, improve access to mental-health care and provide hope and opportunity to young people across Manitoba, Healthy Living Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross, Family Services and Housing Minister Gord Mackintosh and Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport Minister Eric Robinson, acting minister of Aboriginal and northern affairs, announced today.“The loss of even one young person is a tragedy, but we can make a difference by enhancing family, social and community supports and improving access to mental-health treatment and care,” said Irvin-Ross. “We have developed this strategy, based on respect, trust and community partnership, to provide hope and opportunity to the young people who need it most.”
The ministers today joined key community stakeholders to unveil a new package of initiatives called Reclaiming Hope: Manitoba’s Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy, which will include new community‑based, culturally relevant programming and resources to be delivered in communities across the province with a focus on breaking down barriers to meet the needs of Aboriginal youth.
“We need to give our children and youth a healthy head start, allowing them to build up the physical and emotional resilience they need to live happy, successful lives,” said Mackintosh. “Investing in new initiatives will allow us to enhance our prevention efforts while reducing the risk for our children and youth.”
Some of the community-based projects funded under the new strategy include:
· creating a youth crisis stabilization unit in Thompson with on-site treatment, a mobile crisis unit and a Telehealth unit to provide treatment for youth from remote communities and decrease the need for youth to fly south for intensive treatment;
· expanding successful workshops and peer support programs to schools in northern Manitoba through Teen Talk, a program at the Klinic Community Health Centre that provides health education to youth;
· implementing Communities That Care, a program to help communities use new prevention techniques to help recruit leaders, identify suicide-related issues and plan next steps to address youth suicide;
· evaluating the success of the youth leadership training and summer camp program offered in Shamattawa in the summer of 2008 by the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre and expanding it to more northern communities.
· expanding the Winnipeg Mobile Crisis team and resources for the enhancement of crisis stabilization services; and
· developing an electronic flag on the child and family services computer system that will alert workers when a child/youth is at risk of suicide.
“Communities across our province know the pain of losing their youth and we must do everything we can to reach out to youth across Manitoba and support their needs,” said Robinson. “We will continue to find new ways to work together with our regional, provincial and federal partners to resolve barriers to providing suicide prevention services.”
Recommendations from the external reviews of child welfare agencies were considered in the development of the strategy. In 2006, the Changes for Children initiative was designed to address the recommendations of the external reviews and this strategy addresses those recommendations related to suicide prevention.
“These resources are a good start to fostering hope in our communities,” said Elsie Flette, chief executive officer of the Southern First Nations Network of Care. “We need to open doors and begin engaging families as they bring balance back into their lives.”
Government departments will work in partnership with child welfare authorities and agencies, community members and other stakeholders to develop plans for implementation of the strategy.
“Tragically, suicide is one of the leading causes of death among our youth,” said Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) Grand Chief Ron Evans. “Youth suicide prevention is a priority for AMC and we are pleased to see the provincial government taking steps to address this critical issue.”
Suicide can be caused by a complex combination of biological, psychological and social risk factors including poverty, cultural trauma, mental illness and/or addictions, a history of trauma, multiple personal problems and loss. Ways to protect young people include developing healthy coping strategies and strong family, social and community supports.
“The Manitoba youth suicide prevention strategy announced today gives us renewed hope that our Métis community can find ways to prevent any further loss of our precious youth and to find ways to celebrate those positive things that our youth have in their lives,” said David Chartrand, president, Manitoba Métis Federation. “We need to design a Métis-specific approach to youth suicide prevention that will keep our youth strong and healthy. We will continue working with Manitoba Health and Healthy Living’s Aboriginal Health Branch to guide the implementation of this strategy as it relates to Métis in Manitoba.”
More than half the funding for the new strategy is being provided through Manitoba Health and Healthy Living with the remainder funded through the Changes for Children initiative. To view Reclaiming Hope: Manitoba’s Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy, visit www.gov.mb.ca/healthyliving/mh/hope.html.
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