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October 3, 2014
For immediate release

Minister releases details of new and expanded mental health and addictions services for Island youth

Health PEI

New investments of $9 million over three years will help to ensure that Island youth can access enhanced mental health and addictions treatment here in Prince Edward Island, says Minister of Health and Wellness Doug Currie.

“Our government is committed to ensuring Islanders have better access to mental health and addictions services, and particularly our youth,” said Minister Currie. “Today, I am pleased to announce that we will establish a new 12-bed provincial Youth Recovery Centre in Summerside, a Youth Mental Health Unit with up to 12 inpatient beds in Charlottetown, and a new Behavioural Support Team to provide intervention and support for youth with behavioural conditions.”

Minister Currie said these new initiatives respond to recommendations made to government earlier this year by Chief Mental Health and Addictions Officer Dr Rhonda Matters. The three priorities she outlined were to: provide longer term residential addictions treatment for a larger number youth in Prince Edward Island; improve interventions and access to inpatient mental health services for children and youth; and improve access to mental health services for children and youth in the community.

The new Youth Recovery Centre will open in Summerside in the spring. The existing Strength program will be expanded and relocated to the centre. The 12-bed facility will offer up to 18 weeks of around-the-clock residential care, up significantly from the current eight-week day treatment program in Charlottetown which offers limited access to six residential beds. The new centre will also offer up to 24 weeks of community-based aftercare, up from the current 20 weeks. The PEI Youth Recovery Centre will be located at the facility now used by the Young Offenders Centre. Planning is underway for an $800,000 redesign of the facility.

“Addressing this problem is a joint responsibility that cuts across a number of government departments working in partnership with the community,” said Environment, Labour and Justice Minister and Attorney General Janice Sherry. “We need to strengthen supports and services to youth with mental health and addictions problems so they will not end up in the justice system. This provides more options for how the courts deal with these issues.”

A new dedicated youth mental health unit in Charlottetown will see the number of inpatient youth beds increase from four to as many as 12 beds. This new unit will enhance access to therapy and specialist services. It will also offer a new day treatment program to help youth transition back into the community following inpatient treatment.

“By doubling the number of youth addiction beds and tripling the number of youth mental health beds, we will provide quicker access to more care for more youth,” said Minister Currie. “By strengthening our programming and using existing facilities, we can move faster and do more to provide youth with more and longer treatment options and a better chance for recovery.”

The new behavioural support team will provide targeted support and intervention for behavioural difficulties that affect children, youth and their families. The service team will operate in partnership with Community Mental Health and work with health and other government staff to provide assessment, interventions and treatment.

“I am really pleased with the actions being taken by the province on these three key recommendations,” said Dr. Matters. “These investments will increase residential support for the Strength program and give the flexibility to provide longer treatment when required. By doing this we will be able to better meet the needs of more youth and continue to address their addiction and mental health needs.”

“It is encouraging to see government continuing to make investments in addictions and mental health care, especially for the youth of our province,” said family physician Dr. Peter Hooley who also works with the methadone treatment program. “The vulnerable youth population who struggle with addictions and mental health issues will benefit greatly from the increased access and structured environments provided by these new programs.”

Minister Currie also announced that government will be responding to the need for improved access to suicide prevention supports. This will include increasing public awareness of new and existing resources such as the suicide hotline, and making resources more easily available to Islanders who need them.

Backgrounder

Youth Recovery Centre

The 12-bed PEI Youth Recovery Centre will open in the spring. The Strength program will be expanded and relocated to the new centre. It serves youth aged 15 to 24 who are struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues.

The Youth Recovery Centre will have 12 inpatient beds with around-the-clock care, which is more than double the current bed capacity. The length of the residential care program will increase from eight weeks to up to 18 weeks. Community-based aftercare programs will increase from 20 to up to 24 weeks.

The PEI Youth Recovery Centre will be located at the Young Offenders Facility in Summerside which was built in the 1990s for 32 youth and has remained chronically underused. Planning is underway for an $800,000 renovation to the facility. Annual operational costs are expected to be $1.1 million.

Youth Mental Health Unit

A dedicated mental health unit will offer up to 12 beds for children and youth with mental health conditions, up from the current four beds now located in the QEH psychiatric unit. The beds will be provided by acute mental health care services in the Charlottetown area.

The new unit will offer enhanced access to specialized services and therapy, as well as day treatment and coordinated transition back to the community. Additional positions will be created such as a child psychologist, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, patient care coordinator, youth worker, social worker, academic youth worker, occupational therapist, residential care worker and other support staff.

Following a $750,000 renovation, annual operational costs are expected to be $1.4 million.

Behavioural Support Team

This team of mental health professionals will work collaboratively to provide goal-focused therapy to youth and families to address moderate to severe disruptive behaviors that can be associated with a range of mental health conditions. The team will include a team leader with a background in child psychology, child and youth mental health therapists, a youth worker and psychiatry resources.

The team will also work closely with staff from other government sectors who serve children and youth. Treatment may involve psychological testing, a range of assessments, diagnosis, medication interventions, and individual and family therapy. Non mental health services will continue to provide voluntary or mandated care, with advice, support, and direction from the team.

New and Expanded Mental Health and Addictions Services for Island Youth

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Media Contact: Maureen Flanagan-LeClair
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