New Provincial Advisory Council to Address Mental Health and Addictions Issues

Health and Community Services
June 29, 2010

A new Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council has been appointed, effective immediately, by the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Health and Community Services. Minister Kennedy made the announcement last week during the Working Together for Mental Health provincial conference in St. John’s.“Staying connected and well-informed about what is happening throughout the province from a mental health and addictions perspective is critical for our government,” said Minister Kennedy. “The Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council will report directly to me and will advise on key mental health and addictions matters needed in order to enhance services and improve the lives of those living with mental health and addictions issues.”

Vince Withers, Chairperson and founding member of the Eating Disorders Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, has accepted the role of Chairperson; and, Dr. Nizar Ladha, forensic and general psychiatrist and President-Elect of the Canadian Psychiatric Association, will fill the role of Vice-Chair of the advisory council.

Members of the advisory council will bring diverse backgrounds, knowledge and experience in the area of mental health and addictions. They are:

Peter Ralph, Chairperson, CHANNAL;
Sheldon Pollett, Executive Director, Choices for Youth;
Ron Fitzpatrick, Executive Director, Turnings;
Mary Walsh, actor and social activist;
Michelle Kinney, Deputy Minister, Nunatsiavut Government;
Des Coombs, Regional Director of Mental Health and Addictions, Central Health;
Jocelyn Greene, Executive Director, Stella Burry Community Services;
George Skinner, Executive Director, Canadian Mental Health Association-Newfoundland and Labrador Division; and,
Lisa Goudie, Regional Manager Mental Health and Addictions, Western Health.

A provincial mental health public forum was held on June 23, 2010, followed by a mental health conference on June 24, 2010. This provided an important opportunity for the general public, mental health professionals and community groups to come together to discuss mental health issues in Newfoundland and Labrador. Transforming the province’s mental health system and the importance of self-help and peer support were the main themes of the forum and conference. Both events were well attended with approximately 150 people at the public forum and almost 140 people at the conference.

“We were very pleased to have such a tremendous turnout at both the public forum and conference last week,” said Minister Kennedy. “We heard loud and clear some of the mental health issues in our province, and also appreciation for what our government is doing to improve mental health and addictions services for the individuals and families who need them. We need to acknowledge that we are all affected by mental health and addictions issues.”

Budget 2010: The Right Investments – For Our Children and Our Future includes an investment of $7.2 million to strengthen mental health and addictions services in the province including $2.4 million for continued planning and construction of a new residential treatment centre in St. John’s for children and youth with complex mental health needs; $2 million to further a new residential treatment centre in Grand Falls-Windsor for children and youth with addictions; $2 million for the planning and development of an adult residential addictions treatment centre in Harbour Grace; $482,900 to enhance child psychiatry services at the Janeway Hospital; and, $300,000 to support new community-based projects, with a focus on mental health and addictions issues.

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Media contact:

Tansy Mundon
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 685-2646

2010 06 29

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