FREDERICTON (CNB) - The provincial government’s new action plan for mental health puts patients at the centre of treatment; includes new targets; and incorporates a plan to increase access to specialized services across New Brunswick.

Health Minister Madeleine Dubé today released the department's Action Plan for Mental Health in New Brunswick 2011-2018.

"Moving toward patient-centred care means that the system will be restructured to be responsive to individual and community needs, rather than expecting people to adapt to what the system has to offer,” Dubé said.

The action plan follows the 2009 report of the New Brunswick Mental Health Task Force, Together into the future: a transformed mental-health-system for New Brunswick.

"I want to recognize Judge Michael McKee for chairing the provincial mental-health-care task force, and the many New Brunswickers who shared their ideas on how to improve the way we view and address mental health and mental illness," Dubé said. "'The task force report serves as the foundation of this action plan."

The action plan defines an individual's ability to recover as the ability to live a meaningful life as he or she sees it; to participate fully in treatment; to receive services and supports that work best for that person; and to achieve greater quality of life. This perspective on treatment includes an emphasis on mental-health promotion; change in service delivery of all sectors; early identification of mental illness and effective intervention; and a shift in the attitudes and values of residents.

The province will adopt an individualized, patient-centred and recovery-based approach and introduce services designed to intersect effectively with families, communities and workplaces to support those living with mental illness.

Community treatment teams will be created in zones across the province. These teams will provide recovery-based community interventions to those suffering from serious mental illness. The teams will include peer support and will respond to individual needs by identifying barriers and ensuring that housing, employment and treatment are provided.

Dubé announced initiatives designed to increase access to specialized services in areas of the province where resources are an issue:

●    Guidelines for access to community mental-health-centre service will be revised to reflect the recovery model and include the role of families in treatment plans.
●    The Department of Health will support the regional health authorities in establishing mental-health community advisory committees in all zones.
●    The department will offer training and support to enhance mental-health-care capacity in primary-care settings, integrating mental-health-care into primary health care delivery and permitting proactive management of mental health stressors and illnesses.
●    The department will establish clinical protocols and consultation for the use of tele-mental health videoconferencing units to support delivery of specialized service to rural areas.
●    The department will provide funds for mobile crisis services throughout the province to ensure responsiveness of services closer to individuals' home communities and to avoid hospitalization.

Initial funding in support of action plan's immediate implementation was allocated in the 2011-12 provincial budget. Details will be unveiled when Dubé presents the departmental estimates in the legislative assembly this spring.

"The goals identified in this plan are ambitious and far-reaching," Dube said. "Despite this time of restraint, our government is committed to improving the social conditions of New Brunswickers by funding and moving forward with the recommendations of the McKee Report."


●  Action plan for mental health: