The second report leading to the upcoming New Brunswick Family plan has been released, outlining a need for addiction support alongside increased mental health programs.
Consultation with stakeholders has led the provincial government to broaden the focus of the second pillar of their much talked about Family Plan.
Highlighted in the report is the development of an Enhanced Action Plan on Addictions and Mental Health, a priority area that when consultations began looked quite different.
“Originally we were going to be focusing more on supporting those with mental health challenges,” explained Premier Brian Gallant. “But it became very clear from stakeholders across the province that they want support for those living with addictions to be just as important and at the same level.”
The report is said to outline methods for bridging gaps in existing programs, offering culturally relevant treatment and taking a proactive approach to improving mental health.
Kristen Barnes, Operations Manager for the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick, says the issue has often been put on the back burner but is optimistic that mental health is starting to receive the attention it deserves.
“Our province has been lower in terms of percentage of investment into mental health,” Barnes said. “It’s very exciting to see that more support is going to be put there.”
Barnes agrees that the scope of mental health needs to be broadened to ensure those who are affected aren’t left untreated.
“A large percentage of individuals are coming forward looking for support for grief and loss recovery, depression and anxiety, trauma. We’re also servicing some individuals who are at risk of suicide,” she explained. “So there’s a large need all the way around.”
Gallant indicated the bilateral health agreement signed with the federal government in December has given the province a better ability to invest in mental health services. A decision which he says will benefit more than just those receiving the support.
“When we advance programs to support those living with mental health challenges and addictions we’re actually strengthening our economy, we’re increasing productivity, we’re strengthening our workforce,” he explained. “So there are benefits that go beyond just the individual benefits that will be seen.”