Mental health representatives speak on successes, need for funding

By Nigel Maxwell
March 28, 2018 - 5:00pm

Members of Prince Albert's mental health services community had an opportunity on Wednesday to share ideas and educate the public about the services they provide.

More than a dozen groups attended the professional development event, held at the Prince Albert Travelodge.

Shelley Carriere, a member of the P.A. Addictions Committee, said there is a lot of misinformation out in the community. She said one of the most common questions she gets asked a lot is if she ever sees success.

"We see success every day. It's just that society doesn't necessarily judge success the same way that we do in the helping field. For example, society might think somebody completely quitting their use is a success and we might see success as somebody cutting back and making some healthier choices," she said.

Prince Albert's homeward bound project is one example of a local success story. The program focuses on moving people who are chronically and episodically homeless from the street or emergency shelters into permanent housing. Program manager Dave Hobden said he is very proud to have had 40 graduates in just three years.

"These are 40 clients that had been living on the streets, had been living in rough shelters and are now either back working or they are in their own homes and managing on their own," he said.

When asked what made their model so successful, Hobden said it could be the approach. He said for the last 40 or 50 years, the most common approach for dealing with people with addiction issues is telling them to get clean then offering support after.

"What housing first does is we provide a house, a roof over their heads and then you work on those other supports because you can't expect somebody to look after their addictions when they are living in either an unsafe environment or on the streets," Hobden said.

Hobden said despite his committee's success they, like many other groups, face the challenge of having enough resources to meet the demand. He said there are currently 50 to 60 people on their waiting list. 

Prince Albert's Mobile Crisis Unit has been fighting to do the best they can with a lack of resources.  As of June 1, 2016, the group had their daytime funding cut which has had an impact on many of their services including crisis counselling and suicide intervention. Representative Shelby Moniuk said funding is huge for what they do.

"It seems like the mobile crisis is the last ditch effort so it's like when we have nothing then those people have nothing so it's been really tough to work with that," she said.

Moniuk said in many cases staff just do it anyway, regardless of the cost, because they know someone's life may be at risk.


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On Twitter: @nigelmaxwell


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