May 21, 2008
FREDERICTON (CNB) - New Brunswickers will be involved in developing a provincial mental health strategy during consultations to be held around the province, Health Minister Michael Murphy announced today.
"A new provincial strategy will transform mental health services so we can better meet the needs of patients and enable all our residents to contribute to and benefit from a self-sufficient New Brunswick," Murphy said.
The development of a mental health strategy is a key initiative in the provincial health plan unveiled by Murphy in April. The plan calls for a review of current mental health services in order to examine strengths and gaps.
Murphy said that a task force headed by provincial court judge Michael McKee will be charged with carrying out public consultations around the province. Those consultations are planned for the fall.
First, an issues and options paper will be developed based on an analysis of existing documentation and input from key stakeholders. Among the documents to be reviewed will be Out of the Shadows at Last, a report on mental illness released last year, written by Senator Michael Kirby, and Connecting the Dots, a report on youth-at-risk and youth with complex needs, released this year by ombudsman Bernard Richard.
The issues and options paper will help foster discussions during a series of kitchen-table sessions that McKee will have during the summer with stakeholders representing mental health professionals, consumer organizations, families and other interested parties.
A mental health forum dealing with topics addressed by expert thinkers in mental health will be held in October. Potential topics include promotion and prevention; contributions of consumers and families; criminalization of the mentally ill; barriers to education and employment; and the mental health of children and youth.
The final phase will be regional consultations with stakeholders, to take place in November and December.
Murphy said that New Brunswickers will also be able to submit their ideas via a web-based consultation. That process will be established once the issues and options paper is released.
A final report is to be delivered to the minister of health by February 2009.
Murphy said that New Brunswick has a history of innovation in providing mental health services, including the establishment of community mental health centres and the mental health court for individuals who come into conflict with the law as a result of mental illness or intellectual disability.
"Our history is one of providing mental health services in the least restrictive fashion and within the community when at all possible," Murphy said. "Through the development of a provincial mental health strategy, we'll build on this history of putting the needs of patients first."
MEDIA CONTACT: Johanne Le Blanc, communications, Health, 506-457-3513.