New Brunswick is governed by the Liberal party presently and last year released its Family Plan which included mental health as one of is main tenants. Following stakeholder consultation, the provincial government realised New Brunswickers wanted addictions to be addressed as its own tenant as well. This blog will look at the five areas of focus in Supporting Those with Addictions and Mental Health Challenges, released in May 2017, a kind of addendum to the New Brunswick Family Plan. Surprisingly, it makes no new recommendations or commitments than what is already in the mental health section of the Family Plan.
Supporting Those with Addictions and Mental Health Challenges
This document unfortunately does not expand on the minimal recommendations outlined in the Family Plan. Also, despite it being a relatively recent publication it makes no mention of the current addictions and mental health climate in Canada which is wrestling with an opioid epidemic and the imminent legalization of marijuana. In comparison to other provinces like Alberta and Ontario, this document has vague goals and slim summaries showing how these goals might be met. For a province that has localized access to services it is disappointing there is not a greater emphasis on how to meet the needs of the many rural residents of NB. Below are the areas of focus and associated actions that the government has decided on:
- Adopting a proactive approach to improving mental health
- Action: Expanding successful addiction and mental health promotion and prevention initiatives throughout the province
- Bridging gaps in existing programs and services such as those addressing addictions
- Action: Improving community-based treatment options for those suffering from addictions and serious mental illness, such as implementing Supervised Community Care across the province.
- Action: Exploring the possibility of providing community-based treatment for offenders, which will address their addiction and mental health needs as well as the public safety concerns of communities
- Offer a collaborative model of care through an integrated, person-centered approach to service delivery
- Action: Developing an integrated recovery approach to service delivery across the continuum of care for those with addictions and mental health needs.
- Action: Establishing coordinated and interdepartmental interventions with partners in the primary health care, justice and public safety sectors in support of the treatment of patients with complex mental health needs.
- Action: Establishing a network of excellence in support of treatment of youth with complex mental health needs.
- Offering culturally relevant treatments and services, taking into consideration the individual’s social context.
- Action: Ensuring under-represented groups have respectful and appropriate access to services in addictions and mental health.
- Action: Exploring options to help individuals and families who assist seniors and dependents with a mental illness.
- Enhancing the knowledge and awareness of individuals, families, and health care and other service providers
- Action: Ensuring that information related to addiction and mental health treatment options are available to the public through various means, including web-based and print materials, and through the addiction and mental health intake process.
- Action: Reporting on progress in closing gaps on a number of addiction and mental health indicators between priority client populations across the province.
New Brunswick only has 8 locations in the province where you can access government funded addiction treatment. Bathurst, Campbellton, Edmunston, and Tracadie in the north are part of Vitalite Health Network. Frederiction, Miramichi, and Saint John are part of Horizon Health Network, and Moncton is served by both health authorities. These are the only cities in New Brunswick with service points, and should have been something for the government to consider when looking at how to bridge gaps in services. While the recommendations to look at expanding supervised consumption sites and extended services for offenders is commendable, more defined action points are needed to see how these goals will be accomplished.
- New Brunswick Family Plan: Supporting Those with Addictions and Mental Health Challenges May 2017
- New Brunswick Family Plan: Framework Document