Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council working towards streamlining delivery

NORTHEASTERN ONTARIO—The North East Local Health Integration Network Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council is a community initiative focused on streamlining the delivery of mental health and addiction services in the North.

“We have two main focuses right now,” explained Co-Chair Pam Williamson, who is also the executive director of the Noojmowin Teg Health Centre in Aundeck Omni Kaning. “We are working on cataloguing all of the committees and subcommittees relevant to mental health and addiction.”

“We are trying to determine what the current state is of the sub regions of the NE LHIN (Algoma, Cochrane, Sudbury/Manitoulin/Parry Sound, Nipissing/Temiskaming and James and Hudson Bay Coasts),” added Co-Chair of the Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council Carol Philbin-Jolette and director of the coast sub-region and population equity of the NE LHIN. “We want to see what is available, the gaps and ways to address those gaps. Due to the geographical vastness of the NE LHIN we have multiple providers and we want to look at building regional capacity.”

The co-chairs also discussed the second focus of the group: opioid misuse and the council’s work on developing a regional strategy. 

“We have funding from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to develop an opioid strategy,” said Ms. Philbin-Jolette. “It is still in its conceptual phase right now, but determining what (services) are available right now will help us develop a strategy to eventually roll out across the NE LHIN.”

Ms. Philbin-Jolette said that the council is also emphasizing best practices.

“There are a lot of good programs out there and we are sharing those best practices through the council,” she said.

“We want to be able to better provide coordinated services which are patient and family focused,” said Ms. Williamson of the work of the Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council.

The council was struck to develop a plan to implement the recommendations of Dr. Brian Rush’s Review of Addiction Services in Northeastern Ontario, commissioned by the North East LHIN, as well as a mental health blueprint undertaken by Health Sciences North and North Bay Regional Health Centre, Ms. Williamson concluded.