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Quebec grants new funding to Montreal institutions in effort to improve mental health support

Quebec government works to improve mental health services
WATCH: Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann has announced that $2 million will be spent on a study to help the Douglas Hospital better identify its needs. Global’s Tim Sargeant has more.

The Quebec government is granting the Douglas Mental Health University Institute $2 million to conduct studies to help identify areas where major upgrades are needed.

But already, officials point out infrastructure work is needed.

In a press release, officials from the health department write “these buildings are outdated,” and some pavilions have “deteriorated extensively and are no longer adequate.”

“I really want this money to make a difference,” Charles Morin, a former Douglas patient, told Global News.

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Morin used to suffer from mental health issues, something he says he battled for years.

“Every single second of my life was ravaged by anxiety,” he said.

Morin now has a full-time job doing research work on mental health issues, having come a long way from when he was first diagnosed with bipolar personality disorder.

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“Exploding, like once a day,” he said, describing the condition.

“I had too much energy and I wasn’t feeling well. My mood was bad.”

Adult education centre inaugurates first multi-sensory room
Adult education centre inaugurates first multi-sensory room

Last year, the Douglas admitted 2,000 patients and received 5,000 visits. Officials are looking forward to eventually making some big changes — like building more private rooms for patients.

“Currently they are in four- and six-bedded rooms, and for mental health patients this is really not a dignified way to be treated in the health care system,”  said Lynne McVey, the CEO of the West Island Integrated University Health and Social Services Centre that oversees the hospital.

McVey pointed to studies outlining the benefits of private rooms.

“For mental health, it has been very well demonstrated that private rooms with lots of sunlight helps us to bring patients home more quickly and reduce our lengths of stay,” she explained.

READ MORE: Quebec working on mental health action plan

The government is also giving the Philippe-Pinel Institute, which specializes in forensic psychiatry, more than $3 million.

Of that money, $2 million will go towards identifying facilities that need to be overhauled, while $1.38 million is earmarked for adding temporary clinical and administrative offices.

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Health Minister Danielle McCann explained it would provide some “breathing space for the care units” until the modernization project can be completed.

“In the care units, there’s not enough space for the staff and the patients,” she said.

“The $1.38 [million] will give a transitory possibility and additional space because it takes time to build a new solution.”

The institute recently hired 300 employees. Renée Fugère, president and director general of the institute, agreed more space is needed.

“Those professionals do not have enough space to see the patients at their own rhythm,” she said, adding the funds will directly benefit the patients and their families by improving ease of access to care.

The modernization studies carried out by both facilities will allow them to not only identify their specific needs, but will also help to define the overall costs of the projects.