Manitoba Government Press Release–Addictions services are being expanded to improve reach in communities for youth seeking substance use services by embedding counsellors within agencies throughout Winnipeg, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen announced today.

“The VIRGO report on mental health and addictions recommended improving access and co-ordination of mental health and addiction services in Manitoba,” said Friesen. “The needs of youth are evolving and it is vital that we keep services grounded in the community. Co-locating these services at different sites allows counsellors to be both aware of emergent trends and able to adapt their responses to new or evolving issues.”

Youth counsellors from the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM) will now be accessible to existing and future clients from new locations across nine agencies across Winnipeg including:

• Access Fort Garry,

• Aikins Street Community Health Centre,

• Centre de Santé Sainte-Boniface,

• Eagle Urban Transition,

• Macdonald Youth Services,

• Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre,

• New Directions,

• Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad, and

• the StreetReach Program.

“Mental health and substance use problems arising at earlier stages of development can have significant long-term impacts for youth without adequate support and services,” said Ben Fry, chief executive officer, AFM. “These changes will enhance pathways to referrals and improve access for youth, including those with complex needs.”

Decentralizing services and expanding reach within the community are priorities highlighted within the VIRGO report. These partnerships will allow AFM to broaden its scope of service, Fry added.

The movement of staff follows a three-month consultative and planning process. Counsellors will now be located in agencies where youth can access a variety of supports such as primary health, mental health services, and housing and employment.

Existing youth clients will continue to receive support and services from either their current counsellors or a counsellor who is closer to where they live. Embedding counsellors within these agencies will also facilitate an easier referral process to youth services and treatment at AFM for youth living in these Winnipeg neighbourhoods.

Between April 2018 and March 2019, AFM community-based youth services in Winnipeg received 478 youth admissions.

The VIRGO report outlined a strategy to improve mental health and addictions services in Manitoba. Click here to view the report.

For more information on AFM community-based youth services, visit this site.