Manitoba Government Press Release–As part of a comprehensive whole-of-government approach to improving mental health and addictions programming, the Manitoba government is continuing to take action with an investment of nearly $3 million to enhance education programs and expand integrated youth services.

The announcement was made today at the NorWest Co-op Community Health Centre by Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen, Education and Training Minister Kelvin Goertzen, and Families Minister Heather Stefanson.

“These initiatives, which include enhancing and expanding mental health and addictions services at the NorWest Youth Hub, will ensure more Manitoba children and youth are given the educational tools and professional services they need to make positive choices in their lives,” said Friesen. “These meaningful programs are the first of more than a dozen initiatives we will be bringing forward over the next three months as part of our government’s continuing efforts to improve mental health and addictions services for all Manitobans.”

The ministers announced enhanced and expanded mental health and addictions programming for youth with three new initiatives today. The investments, which total $2.94 million over three years, include:
• $823,000 to the NorWest Youth Hub, to increase mental health and addictions counselling, Indigenous cultural supports, primary health care, as well as recreation and training opportunities for youth aged 14 to 24;
• $621,000 to Project 11, which provides virtual and in-person lessons and activities designed to improve mental health awareness and positive coping strategies for students in kindergarten to Grade 8; and
• $1.5 million to expand the distribution of Thrival Kits to grades 4 to 6 students across the province.

“Investing in the mental health of Manitobans, including youth and children, is a primary commitment of our government,” said Goertzen. “Programs like Project 11 will help make a difference in the lives of young people by giving them the skills they need to maintain and improve their mental health.”

All three initiatives meet various recommendations made in the VIRGO report, the most comprehensive assessment of mental health and addictions services in the province’s history. Almost one in four Manitobans aged 10 and older has a diagnosed mood or anxiety disorder, while 75 per cent of mental illness onsets occur before the age of 24.

“Mental health and addictions are affecting our families, neighbours and friends,” said Stefanson. “We are taking action now and we’ll continue to research, plan and implement initiatives to address the real challenges our communities are facing.”

In total, more than 100 initiatives addressing mental health and addictions have been implemented across all of government since 2016. The Manitoba government invested approximately $566 million in the last fiscal year to mental health and addictions.

Progress is being made behind the scenes on a number of other initiatives that take recommendations from several reports into account including VIRGO, the Illicit Drug Task Force, Tracia’s Trust and the Community Wellness and Public Safety Alliance. Commitments made over the summer as part of the Safer Streets, Safer Lives Action Plan are also moving forward.

For more, please watch the live news conference.