Winnipeg launches new mental health centre

Manitobans needing urgent help when experiencing a mental health crisis will now be able to easily access the care they need, says Premier Greg Selinger

Selinger made the announcement today at the official opening of the Winnipeg-based Mental Health Crisis Response Centre (CRC), which was built with $12.3 million in health infrastructure funding from the Manitoba government.

Over 35 mental health professionals will work together at the CRC to provide services such as integrated mental health assessment, crisis intervention and mental health crisis treatment. They will also connect patients to key resources for appropriate follow-up care as needed.

"Families dealing with a mental health crisis no longer have to go to an emergency room for care as we open Canada's first dedicated facility for mental health crises and emergencies," said Selinger. "Highly skilled mental health professionals will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for those who need them."

Every year, over 10,000 people visit Winnipeg emergency rooms (ERs) for mental health crises, with less than 15 per cent requiring hospitalization, according to the province. The new Mental Health CRC will accommodate at least 10,000 patient visits and will be closely linked with Health Sciences Centre ER.

"With nearly one in four Manitobans experiencing mental illness in his or her lifetime, this resource will be an invaluable service to those who need it," Health Minister Theresa Oswald said.

The centre is designed to be a central access point for adults experiencing a mental health crisis and expressing concerns, including the following:

• personal distress and the risk of potential harm associated with an immediate crisis including suicidal behaviour
?• signs and symptoms of a condition requiring urgent mental health assessment and treatment?
• intense emotional trauma where assessment, crisis intervention and linkage to other services can occur?
• an immediate risk after hours when the ongoing mental health service provider is not available.

The crisis response centre will also provide individuals with mental health issues, and those with co-occurring mental health and addiction issues, with links and referrals to specialized treatment, rehabilitation and support services, the province says.