by Morinville News Staff
Creating new addiction treatment beds is among several immediate actions the province is taking in response to the Valuing Mental Health report, which is now available on the http://www.health.alberta.ca/documents/Alberta-Mental-Health-Review-2015.pdf.
The report makes 32 recommendations to support mental health by strengthening service delivery for Albertans with mental illness and addictions.
Of the 32 recommendations, the province is immediately focusing on six. These include adding up to 28 medical detoxification beds for adults,
expanding access to addiction treatment by opening three new social detoxification beds for children and youth in Calgary, and partnering with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities to develop an opiate addictions action plan.
Additionally, the province plans on increasing technology-based solutions by launching a child and youth mental health website in spring 2016, tracking results on report recommendations and the benefits to Albertans, and establishing an Addiction and Mental Health Implementation team to work with health and community partners to coordinate the implementation of the report.
“The current mental health system is not meeting the needs of an increasing number of Albertans,” said Dr. David Swann, Co-chair, Mental Health Review Committee in a Feb. 22 release. “We can and must do better. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Albertans have heard this. Successful implementation of the Mental Health Review will require a higher level of leadership from Alberta Health, and the new AHS board, than that provided by previous governments. Today’s six priority recommendations are an excellent start.”
Suicide prevention applauded
Mara Grunau, Executive Director of the Centre for Suicide Prevention, said she was pleased to see suicide prevention prioritized in the report, and applauded the government for their prompt release of the Mental Health Review report.
“I commend the Notley Government for its bold leadership in mental health, commissioning the Review and tabling the Report within their first year in office,” Grunau said in a release Feb. 22.
Wellness Alberta, a health coalition representing 130 organizations, institutions and governing bodies, also applauded the recommendations in the final report.
“We applaud the recommendations of the Swann report to increase resources and funding for the prevention of mental illness,” said Jim Gray, campaign chair. “Mental illness is largely preventable, but we must address root causes such as childhood adversity and trauma. We need to invest in proven prevention strategies such as positive parenting programs that can reduce childhood trauma. Our children deserve every opportunity to enjoy healthy and productive lives that are free of trauma and mental illness including addiction and suicide.
Gray went on to say he urged the government to implement all 32 recommendations, particularly 16, 23, and 24 – recommendations that focus on preventing mental illness.
Wildrose says more needed
While support for the report was favourable, even from the province’s Official Opposition, the Wildrose noted the report was lacking in some areas.
“Wildrose thanks the panel members for developing this report, and for including some key recommendations from the Wildrose report, including utilizing primary care centres, enhancing mental health curricula in schools, and combatting the current fentanyl crisis,” said Wildrose Shadow Health Minister Drew Barnes. “However, there are still some glaring details that were not included in this report, including a comprehensive strategy for dementia in our province.”
The province’s full report can be found online at http://www.health.alberta.ca/documents/Alberta-Mental-Health-Review-2015.pdf.