LITTLE CURRENT – Last week, the Ontario government announced a new mobile mental health and addictions clinic for Peterborough. It’s one of four such clinics that were committed through Ontario’s 2021 budget. One of those clinics will be located on Manitoulin Island and is on its way, according to Associate Minister for Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo. The pilot project will improve access to mental health and addictions care in underserved areas, directly within the communities.
Associate Minister Tibollo visited the Island last month, as a final stop on a tour of Northern Ontario communities that included Timmins, Fort Albany, Sagamok and Espanola. The visit was an “eye opener” on homelessness, overdose-related deaths and suicides in the region. While on Manitoulin, he met with Aundeck Omni Kaning Chief Patsy Corbiere and Noojmowin Teg staff members. Noojmowin Teg will co-ordinate the project.
The clinic will operate within a custom-built retrofitted bus and will reduce the need for individuals to travel by meeting them in their home communities. It will include mental health and addictions workers, a nurse practitioner and a social worker providing a range of services that will include intake and briefing services, referrals to existing services, and psychiatric support and follow up.
“One of the things I’m really concerned about is making sure that the investments get right into communities,” Associate Minister Tibollo said. “That mobile health unit is going to be a game changer because it’s going to let people, who would maybe be hesitant to seek treatment, to go visit someone within their community and it’s going to provide supports on the spot. It’s one of the four in the province that’s being piloted to start this fall.”
The investment is part of Ontario’s Roadmap to Wellness plan, released in 2020 to address gaps in mental health and addictions care and reduce waiting lists and long wait times. The government has made $525 million in annualized new investments in mental health, said Associate Minister Tibollo.
He’s excited to finally see the pilot project begin and hopes to be back on the Island for the launch here. It’s just a question of completing the mobile clinic custom build, he said. He hopes it’s ready to launch “while the weather is still good enough for us to get up here to announce it.”