Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, October 3, 2014 – New investments of $9 million over three years will help to ensure that Island youth can access enhanced mental health and addictions treatment here in Prince Edward Island, says Minister of Health and Wellness Doug Currie.
“Our government is committed to ensuring Islanders have better access to mental health and addictions services, and particularly our youth,” said Minister Currie. “Today, I am pleased to announce that we will establish a new 12-bed provincial Youth Recovery Centre in Summerside, a Youth Mental Health Unit with up to 12 inpatient beds in Charlottetown, and a new Behavioural Support Team to provide intervention and support for youth with behavioural conditions.”
Minister Currie said these new initiatives respond to recommendations made to government earlier this year by Chief Mental Health and Addictions Officer Dr Rhonda Matters. The three priorities she outlined were to: provide longer term residential addictions treatment for a larger number youth in Prince Edward Island; improve interventions and access to inpatient mental health services for children and youth; and improve access to mental health services for children and youth in the community.
The new Youth Recovery Centre will open in Summerside in the spring. The existing Strength program will be expanded and relocated to the centre. The 12-bed facility will offer up to 18 weeks of around-the-clock residential care, up significantly from the current eight-week day treatment program in Charlottetown which offers limited access to six residential beds. The new centre will also offer up to 24 weeks of community-based aftercare, up from the current 20 weeks. The PEI Youth Recovery Centre will be located at the facility now used by the Young Offenders Centre. Planning is underway for an $800,000 redesign of the facility.
“Addressing this problem is a joint responsibility that cuts across a number of government departments working in partnership with the community,” said Environment, Labour and Justice Minister and Attorney General Janice Sherry. “We need to strengthen supports and services to youth with mental health and addictions problems so they will not end up in the justice system. This provides more options for how the courts deal with these issues.”
A new dedicated youth mental health unit in Charlottetown will see the number of inpatient youth beds increase from four to as many as 12 beds. This new unit will enhance access to therapy and specialist services. It will also offer a new day treatment program to help youth transition back into the community following inpatient treatment.
“By doubling the number of youth addiction beds and tripling the number of youth mental health beds, we will provide quicker access to more care for more youth,” said Minister Currie. “By strengthening our programming and using existing facilities, we can move faster and do more to provide youth with more and longer treatment options and a better chance for recovery.”
The new behavioural support team will provide targeted support and intervention for behavioural difficulties that affect children, youth and their families. The service team will operate in partnership with Community Mental Health and work with health and other government staff to provide assessment, interventions and treatment.
“I am really pleased with the actions being taken by the province on these three key recommendations,” said Dr. Matters. “These investments will increase residential support for the Strength program and give the flexibility to provide longer treatment when required. By doing this we will be able to better meet the needs of more youth and continue to address their addiction and mental health needs.”
“It is encouraging to see government continuing to make investments in addictions and mental health care, especially for the youth of our province,” said family physician Dr. Peter Hooley who also works with the methadone treatment program. “The vulnerable youth population who struggle with addictions and mental health issues will benefit greatly from the increased access and structured environments provided by these new programs.”
Minister Currie also announced that government will be responding to the need for improved access to suicide prevention supports. This will include increasing public awareness of new and existing resources such as the suicide hotline, and making resources more easily available to Islanders who need them.
Senior Communications Officer
Department of Health and Wellness
Senior Communications Officer