MONCTON (GNB) – Peer support workers are using their own life experience to help Flexible Assertive Community Treatment teams support people with serious mental health issues.

“Your government understands that good mental health is fundamental to the resilience of individuals, families and communities,” said Health Minister Benoît Bourque, who visited with those workers Friday in Moncton. “As a province, we must focus on integrated, community-based, and patient-centered recovery approaches for those suffering from addictions and mental health issues. This will help New Brunswick families regain control of their future together.”

Peer support workers are staff members who, in the course of their work, openly acknowledge that they currently live or previously lived with an addiction or mental illness. Sharing their stories of recovery is meant to provide hope, motivation and support to people in similar situations.

Flexible Assertive Community Treatment teams use a multidisciplinary approach to support people with mental health issues. They emphasize resiliency during the ups and downs of the recovery process, adapting the intensity of support to each person’s needs.

This team approach has been used as a pilot project in the Moncton area since 2013 and is now being expanded provincewide.

Improving access to mental health and addiction services is a component of the federal-provincial health-care funding agreement reached last December. It will provide an additional $229.4 million in targeted health-care funding over the next 10 years, including $104.3 million to support mental health initiatives.

Supporting those with addictions and mental health challenges is a pillar of the New Brunswick Family Plan framework. The framework aims to improve the lives of all residents by addressing the factors that have the greatest impact upon health and well-being. It focuses government action in seven priority areas: improving access to primary and acute care; promoting wellness; supporting people with addictions and mental health challenges; fostering healthy aging and support for seniors; advancing women’s equality; reducing poverty; and supporting people with disabilities.