Home support program investment to benefit Island

SUDBURY—Provincial government investments in mental health and addictions through the North East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) are supporting programs that will assist people in recovering from addictions and mental health issues and enable them to stay in their own homes.

Through the LHIN, the province is investing close to $2.3 million in the Manitoulin Sudbury area for high priority supports for people living with mental health and substance abuse and a number of those programs extend to the Island’s shores.

Under the Harm Reduction Home, which received $1 million in funding from the LHIN, CMHA (Canada Mental Health Association) Sudbury/Manitoulin will provide a residential program that offers a managed alcohol program (MAP). According to Lynne Annett, rent supplement coordinator with the Canadian Mental Health Association, the harm reduction model will include supportive counselling, housing, social and clinical health services, for individuals who are chronically homeless and impacted by chronic substance abuse, with multiple health concerns, and mental health challenges. The LHIN will also work with other community partners (Centre de santé, Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre, Salvation Army, Greater City of Sudbury) to create a hub to help the homeless or at risk individuals within this facility so that primary care and shelter services and expertise can be shared between the organizations.

The expansion of Corner Clinic and Mental Health Paramedicine Training received $250,000 in one-time funding. Through this program CMHA Sudbury/Manitoulin will be work with partners, including the Centre de santé communautaire du Grand Sudbury, Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre, Greater Sudbury and the Salvation Army, to expand services for clients and cover the start-up costs related to the expansion of the Corner Clinic within the Harm Reduction Home. In addition, 150 paramedics will receive mental health training.

The CMHA Sudbury-Manitoulin Transitional Community Support program received $520,000 in funding to provide additional services to 180 clients, making an additional 2,000 client visits. Transitional community support workers and peer support workers will help those with mental health and addiction challenges maintain and sustain housing.

“This will allow us to hire another 2.5 transitional support workers,” noted Ms. Annett. The workers assist people who have left the hospital in crisis prevention. “Transition support will work with individuals calling in crisis frequently.” The concept is for the workers to assist individuals in sourcing other community supports to deal with their issues.

There are many benefits for the general public tangentially and taxpayers through this program, noted Ms. Annett. By diverting the calls from emergency services to accessing other community supports and helping individuals to cope with mental health crisis, the pressure on emergency services at local hospital sites will be lessened.

The transitional assistance is designed to be short term, with a three month window, noted Ms. Annett.

“An example of a crisis might be in housing, where an individual is in danger of losing their home,” she said. “Sometimes people just don’t have the necessary support to manage their situation. They find themselves discharged from hospital and are just unable to cope.”

Community Mobilization Sudbury received $260,000 for its Rapid Mobilization Table, which pulls together more than 20 partner organizations representing key sectors in the human services system such as health, children’s services, policing, education, mental health, addictions and municipal services, responds collectively to ensure that individuals and families at acutely elevated risk are connected with timely and appropriate supports, noted the announcement.

The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Clinic received $180,460 to allow the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Clinic at Health Sciences North (HSN) to see additional children and reduce its wait list.

Shared Space received $50,000 so the CMHA Sudbury/Manitoulin can work with a group of community agencies to create a hub where clients can access a variety of services.

“We have all been touched by mental health and addiction challenges—whether through a friend, a co-worker, a family member or our own experience,” said Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, in a release announcing the funding. “By continuing to invest in community services, we’re helping to connect people with the support they need closer to home through settings that are more culturally appropriate and personal. These investments will improve the lives of people experiencing mental illness and addictions challenges—and the families that help care for them,” said Glenn Thibeault, MPP for Sudbury. “Investing in local mental health and addictions agencies will make it easier to access services here in Sudbury and across the region. Helping people early and when they need it most will improve the lives of many residents and families.”

“The North East LHIN is investing in individuals and their families by providing mental health and addiction services to clients who need them,” said Louise Paquette, CEO of the North East LHIN.

“Investments such as these support us in serving individuals living in the Sudbury and Manitoulin Districts who are experiencing serious mental health challenges, when and where they need it most,” agreed Marion Quigley, CEO of the CMHA Sudbury/Manitoulin. “With this new funding we and our partners can provide more of the services and programs individuals need in the community to better determine their path to wellness and mental health.”

It is anticipated that the new funding will relieve some of the pressure on other public services. “Community addictions and mental health programs help police and others build community resiliency and safety,” said Chief Paul Pederson of the Greater Sudbury Police Services. “They provide treatment and support rather than arrest and incarceration, resulting in a better life for everyone.”

“These initiatives being announced today are providing HSN with the opportunity to work with key stakeholders and health care partners to develop and plan programs and services that will provide patients with mental health care and addictions needs with more comprehensive, supportive care in the community while reducing repeat visits to the Emergency Department,” said Lisa Smith, administrative director of emergency and ambulatory care at Health Sciences North (HSN). “This is truly a success and supports clients receiving the right care, in the right place, at the right time. HSN will continue to keenly participate in ensuring a continued collaborative care model to ensure positive patient outcomes and community health.”

Among the challenges the new funding is expected to help with are investments in local mental health and addictions organizations in the Sudbury area to provide care closer to home for people who are experiencing mental health and addiction challenges. Ontario is also creating a province-wide registry of mental health beds to connect people experiencing a mental health crisis with the closest available bed.