Mental health services must improve

By Wab Kinew, MLA for Fort Rouge

As published in The Sou'wester July 31, 2017

Throughout the first half of this summer I have had many opportunities to go to events and spend time with families in communities across the province.

Health care has always been a huge concern for Manitobans and even more so in recent months. Many of the communities I have visited are particularly concerned with what happens when our health system overlooks mental health.

Many families are struggling with the effects that mental illness has on their communities. They are struggling to find access to the right help in order to achieve a sense of health and wellbeing. First Nations communities have been hit hard by not receiving nearly enough support for the many necessities of life that contribute to this wellbeing.

Having a roof over your head, having clean drinking water, and having food that is affordable are some of the most basic needs for our mental health. For many people, these needs are not being met.

I have seen the costs of treating mental health in a way that does not incorporate the multiple elements of our well-being and it is hurting our communities. These problems impact everyone in our province from our most remote northern communities to right here in Fort Rouge.

I am committed to working to improve mental health in our community in a way that goes beyond traditional models. Everyone can benefit when mental health is recognized as relating to other co-occurring health issues and is treated with an all-encompassing approach that addresses our social, health, and wellness needs.

My vision for our province includes reducing the barriers that people have to accessing services. We can do this by providing support to important initiatives in our province, by investing in treatment beds that employ harm reduction approaches for those dealing with co-occurring disorders, and by ensuring a system where people are never turned away when they are seeking help.

I want to see a province where kids can grow up feeling equipped with the tools they need to cope, where our youth are able to develop a positive sense of identity and inclusion in their communities, and where people can access the mental health services they need to continue on their pathways to healthier lives for themselves and their families.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact by email at Wab.Kinew@yourmanitoba.ca, or call my office at 204-615-1922.