Mental Health, Wellness, and Recovery Minister Audrey Gordon is asking Manitobans to help the province develop a five-year action plan to to improve its prevention, treatment, and recovery system.
Gordon says the government is building on a number of recent studies on how the province can improve access to, and coordination of, mental health and addictions services in Manitoba. She says the action plan will use those insights to inform where to focus to ensure Manitobans can easily find and access the right care when they need it.
“We are committed to making mental health, wellness, and recovery services co-ordinated, effective, and results-oriented,” Gordon says. “Several reports have been commissioned in the last several years, and many of these recommendations have been implemented.” A preliminary five-year action plan will focus on five areas based on the recommendations from those reports: evidence-based, data-driven services; access and co-ordination; substance use and recovery; population health and wellness; and service accountability.
But the government says it won’t fully implement the action plan without fully consulting service providers and Manitobans first. “It is essential for partners, stakeholders, and the public to contribute to finalizing this plan,” said Gordon. “We want to hear the thoughts of key stakeholders and the public as we move forward to help ensure services and programs are meeting the needs of Manitobans.” A mental wellness public engagement campaign has launched online and will ramp up in the fall, with Manitobans invited to give their feedback on the province’s mental health services.
NorWest Coop Community Health Executive Director Nancy Heinrichs says their Youth Hub is seeing a surge in demand for their mental health services, with a 500 per cent increase in referrals for counselling from January 2020 to March 2021. Heinrichs says provincial funding for additional counselling and psychologist appointments, primary care visits, and mental health support group sessions has allowed NorWest to increase the number of youth served at the hub by about 150 per year.
Gordon is the province’s first Mental Health, Wellness, and Recovery minister after the department was created in January 2021. Focussed on providing supports for mental health and addiction prevention and recovery, the portfolio created 600 full-time positions supported by a $332 million budget.