Overdose prevention and education have been a topic of discussion within Moose Jaw, following three individuals who lost their lives last weekend from separate fentanyl-related overdoses.
Everett Hindley is the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors, and Rural and Remote Health and made a visit to Moose Jaw on Thursday morning as part of a breakfast event put on by the Chamber of Commerce and the two Saskatchewan Party constituency offices.
Hindley explained that mental health and addictions are at the forefront of not only communities such as Moose Jaw but others across the province.
“This is happening far too often in communities across our province,” says Hindley. “We have seen how devesting this crisis has had in terms of an impact on our communities. This really underscores the need for us as government, community-based organizations, and all our partners to be working together to make sure that we’re doing as much as we can to provide the services to those that need them the most.”
A program that the minister spoke about is Moose Jaw’s Police and Crisis Team (PACT), which has an officer paired up with a mental health professional to assist those facing a mental health or addiction situation.
He adds that they are hoping to expand the program into different communities and add additional PACT teams around the province.
“We know it’s an effective program and an important part of what we’re doing. We have seen positive results in all accounts from what I’ve heard from front-line workers.”
Hindley also spoke about the free rapid-access counseling that was added in Moose Jaw. The program is available to families, couples, and individuals that are dealing with the struggles of mental health and need to talk with someone.
“It provides free walk-in mental health counseling. We’re funding for 31 communities and it’s operational in 24, including Moose Jaw, which recently expanded in the last year.”
It was recently, announced that this free rapid-access counseling program has been expanded to be accessible by youth and children.
“This is something that is important. Yes, there are people that have very complex issues and require those complex supports. There are people that are at the end of the scale, they need that access right away.
Those that are interested in using this service can visit their website HERE.
Another area that the government is working toward is additional treatment centres within the province.
In this year’s budget, the province has contributed over $500 million towards mental health and addiction services. Currently, the province has about 500 treatment spaces, which include 24 physical spaces in Moose Jaw and another 30 online.
The hope is to add another 150 treatment spaces across the province in the years to come.
“That is one of our biggest pressures is people waiting to get into detox and waiting to get into long-term treatment. For those individuals that have reached the point where they recognize they need long-term treatment, we need to be able to provide that support. Is it there but we just don’t have enough capacity.”
Lastly, Hindley touched on public awareness campaigns that are ongoing to try and change the stigma around addictions, which is called “Addiction Has Many Faces”.
Following Hindley’s speech, he fielded questions surrounding Naloxone access, harm reduction, mental health resources for farmers, the paramedicine program, PACT, and training for community service providers.