FREDERICTON (GNB) – A five-year action plan aimed at addressing the increasing demand for addiction and mental health services was released today. The plan includes new targets and is intended to increase access to specialized services across the province.

“This plan serves as a framework to guide and align current plans and priorities, as well as to foster increased collaboration among our stakeholders and partners in the delivery of mental health services,” said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard.

The Inter-Departmental Addiction and Mental Health Action Plan: Priority Areas for 2021-2025 has five goals:

  • to improve population health: by reducing risk factors and providing improved access to services required to maintain health;
  • to improve access to services: by providing faster first contact and reduced wait times for services;
  • to intervene earlier: by providing greater access to prevention and early intervention support and services;
  • to match individuals to care: by providing a more complete continuum of services and support which is easier to navigate; and;
  • to reduce the impact of drug addiction, such as crime, illness, injury and death, upon communities.

Shephard said the plan will integrate a public health approach (prevention and health promotion), encourage interdepartmental action and contribute to building an easily navigated continuum of care. It will also improve access and better match individuals with the least intensive treatment required with the greatest likelihood of improvement, leading to a better functioning system with increased access, she said.

The plan will focus on the following 12 key priority initiatives, including:

  • the implementation of walk-in addiction and mental health services across the province;
  • the addition of addiction and mental health resources to fill current gaps in staffing and prepare for increased demand from COVID-19;
  • the implementation of an education, training and knowledge transfer plan;
  • the creation of various forms of supportive housing for addiction and mental health clients, including the implementation of a clinical consultation model for individuals requiring out-of-home placement;
  • the implementation of a guiding document for population health promotion and prevention, including a New Brunswick-specific version of the Icelandic Prevention Model;
  • the implementation of the provincial treatment centre for youth;
  • the implementation of outpatient withdrawal management services in partnership with primary care and a review of existing detox beds to determine needs and optimal use;
  • the development of a service model for people presenting with neurodevelopmental disorders;
  • the initiation of a psychiatry resource strategy with a focus on recruitment, retention, distribution and access;
  • the implementation of regional inpatient youth psychiatric care where needed;
  • the expansion of the RCMP Crime Reduction Unit, including resources from the Justice and Public Safety Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Unit; and
  • the implementation of overdose prevention sites.

Initial funding for the plan’s immediate implementation was allocated in the 2020-21 provincial budget.