Manitoba Government Press Release–The Manitoba government is issuing a request for proposals for a community-based agency to deliver formal peer and family support services at Winnipeg’s Crisis Response Centre and the Dauphin Regional Health Centre, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen announced today.

“A person who has lived through and recovered from mental health or addictions issues can establish trust and help others in their own recovery,” said Friesen. “Peer-support programs in formal health-care settings are successful in other areas of Canada, and we expect that implementing these services here will help reduce inpatient admissions and decrease rates of re-admission.”

The request for proposals is seeking a community-based agency to provide peer and family support services in the two communities.

Peer support programs offer an evidence-based service that uses the expertise of trained staff with lived experience to support the recovery of people struggling with mental health and addictions. Peer support staff work with clients and families from initial contact through ongoing support and post-discharge followup.

Implementation of the program here in Manitoba will be based on successful peer support models in other Canadian jurisdictions, including Ottawa, which have been successful in:
• reducing emergency department wait times, inpatient admissions and re-admissions;
• reducing length of inpatient stays;
• improving patient and family experiences in crisis situations;
• reducing hospital visits; and
• improving health outcomes.

“Manitoba has a strong network of trained peer support workers that provide community or hospital-based support to mental health and addictions patients,” said Dr. Jitender Sareen, provincial specialty lead, mental health and addictions, Shared Health. “The addition of peer support workers to our model of crisis and emergency mental health and addictions care allows us to enhance services available to patients and evaluate how this evidence-based practice may be expanded to facilities across the province.“

The minister noted the implementation of the program will meet a recommendation from the VIRGO report, which identified peer support in formal health-care settings as a short-term priority.

“We look forward to receiving proposals from interested partners and agencies as part of our continuing work to improve mental health and addictions services for Manitobans,” Friesen said.