An independent reviewer has released her report on child and adolescent mental health and addictions services in Halifax Regional Municipality. The report prepared by Dr. Jana Davidson, a nationally recognized expert in children’s mental health, has 14 recommendations to improve access and quality of mental health and addictions services. The main challenges outlined in her report include recruitment and retention of doctors, silos among those delivering services, and gaps in delivery of physical services for 17 to 19-year-olds. “Improving upon the services already provided by the IWK Health Centre and Capital Health involves ensuring consistency and integration in the delivery of services, adopting a trauma informed approach to care, and an added effort to boost the number of clinical staff and physicians,” said Dr. Davidson. The province supports the findings of the report, which impacts all areas where children and youth can access mental health services, including the province’s health, education, justice, and social systems. “Our goal is to improve mental health and addictions services for patients and the people who love them,” said Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine. “We are dealing with young people who need the best care possible. I know that Dr. Davidson’s report will help us to improve, and I thank her for her work.” Work has already begun to address issues identified through the review. A new urgent care clinic recently opened at the IWK Heath Centre to help address the needs of children and youth who are not admitted but still require timely access to follow up care. In addition, the province has been working to increase access to mental health and addictions services throughout Nova Scotia by expanding the Strongest Families program and the mental health crisis line to the entire province. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development also provides supports and is committed to reviewing recommendations relating to the SchoolsPlus program. “We are grateful to Dr. Davidson for her review of IWK services for children and youth experiencing mental illness,” said Anne McGuire, president and CEO, IWK Health Centre. “We will review the resulting recommendations in detail with leaders and clinicians within our Mental Health and Addictions program as part of our continual commitment to enhance the services we provide.” The report was recommended following the external review of the Halifax Regional School Board’s handling of the Rehtaeh Parson’s case. Its scope was to focus on the policies, programs, and services related to mental health and addictions services for youth who are having difficulties with addictions, peer relationships, bullying, cyber-bullying, sexuality, and sexual assault. The report can be found at http://novascotia.ca/dhw/mental-health/reports.asp .
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