Renfrew County to Unveil New Mental Health Initiative Image for Blog Post

Renfrew County to Unveil New Mental Health Initiative

At the Annual General Meeting of the Renfrew County Law Clinic held in Pembroke on October 30, 2018, members heard a presentation by Greg Lubimiv about the new Renfrew County Mental Health and Addiction Plan. Lubimiv is Executive Director of the Phoenix Centre for Children and Families which is the lead agency for the provincial initiative, Moving on Mental Health. He is also the chair of the Renfrew County Mental Health and Addiction Planning Table.

The Plan, which is the first county-wide initiative and which was released this past summer, evolved from a Planning Table which commenced its work in 2015. Its goal was to create a more client-centred, effective and efficient system, which would help anyone experiencing a mental health challenge get to the right door to receive the right treatment at the right time. Renfrew County is only one of two regions which focused on all ages rather than just those under 18.

One of its goals is to have all agencies/organizations adopt the principle of “connecting everyone to the right door.” Lubimiv described how there have been many examples of those needing access to mental health services but just do not know where to go or even if they connect to the wrong service are only provided a phone number or a list of other services. Agencies will be charged with the responsibility of staying with a client until they get to the right door.

Recommendations in the Plan fall into three categories:

  • Intake/access which addresses concerns about not knowing where to go, not having quick access, issues about sharing information between service providers, having a wide assortment of intake instruments, and clients having to tell their stories over and over.
  • Pathways to care which focuses on creating formal protocols that assist in case coordination or case management between agencies.
  • Integrated crisis systems which will build on an already clear model that has emerged and work in this area will help to eliminate clients falling through the cracks and in having a common protocol between emergency rooms in hospitals and community agencies.

Some of the statistics that Lubimiv referred to highlight the need for addressing the priorities identified. It is estimated that 20 percent of children and youth in Ontario are affected by a mental illness or disorder. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among 10 to 24-year-olds and in Canada only one in four children who need mental health services receives them. At the meeting Lubimiv noted,

You should also know that youth and adults and seniors are in the same position. Up to one in five of all ages will suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder in their lifetime.

Lubimiv also highlighted the challenges created by being physically remote from services.

You are not too bad off if you live in Pembroke or Petawawa or Renfrew or Arnprior, but God forbid if you live in Combermere or Douglas.

The issue of access for more rural/remote areas and exploring innovative strategies will be one that is addressed by the Phoenix Centre and The Planning Table in the coming year.

In the Phoenix Centre media release announcing the Plan, Lubimiv said,

Mental health and addiction services are going to go through some major transitions over the next few years and this is very much due to the amazing people around the Planning Table who have put huge amounts of time and effort into creating a Plan that will make a difference. We are also thankful to the Ministry of Children and Youth for their vision of system transformation and the provision of resources.