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Manitoba Government News Release–The Manitoba government will invest more than $4.2-million to improve mental health services, making it easier for children and youth to receive assessments and treatment, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen announced today.

“Children and youth with mental health issues require improved quality of care and quicker access to assessments,” said Friesen. “These investments will improve patient flow in the Children’s Hospital emergency department and reduce wait times for outpatient services.”

Over three years, the funding will allow additional resources to be added to services already available at Children’s Hospital. This will include increasing:
• the availability of child and adolescent psychiatric emergency nurses who assess children in the emergency department;
• access to group treatment in the existing anxiety disorders service;
• access to individual treatment for children and youth in crisis;
• group treatment capacity for patients who require ongoing outpatient care after 12 weeks of crisis treatment; and
• urgent consultation to rural and remote health-care centres, reducing the number of transfers from rural and remote communities.

“HSC’s child and adolescent mental health services provide assessment and treatment to meet the needs of children and youth with teams of nurses, occupational therapists, social workers and psychiatrists,” said Dr. Laurence Katz, medical director, child and adolescent mental health, HSC Winnipeg. “This investment will allow us to provide appropriate and timely care to more children and youth, improving access to the range of mental health services we provide to patients and families in the community.”

The second phase, expected in the next fiscal year, will include the development of a clinic dedicated to patient followup, ensuring medication compliance and ongoing care as well as enhanced rapid access care for patients who can be safely discharged from the emergency department but require a psychiatric assessment within a few days.

Additionally, a 12-week multidisciplinary crisis treatment program will be expanded. The program includes individual psychotherapy, family therapy and occupational therapy groups, as well as another service for group, individual and family therapy for children and adolescents with mood and anxiety disorders.

The minister said this funding fulfils a recommendation made in the VIRGO report, which was to prioritize funding for the expansion of services for children and youth.

Since the beginning of October, the Manitoba government has committed $18 million toward nine initiatives that will improve mental health and addictions services throughout the province. The minister said other investments in mental health and addictions support will be announced in the coming weeks.