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September 9, 2010

Suicide prevention through video consultation

Children and youth in northern Manitoba communities will receive much-needed mental health services and supports to prevent suicide, thanks to a creative use of technology.

Issues like isolation and limited access to mental health resources will be addressed with the use of Telehealth, a high speed video system that allows clients to talk to mental health providers online.

"This service is something that hopefully will enhance communities' abilities to support their children, youth and families where they live. This service will be a collaboration with other mental health service providers in the communities, schools and other community-based support," says Marg Synyshyn, Program Director of the Winnipeg Health Region Child and Adolescent Mental Health Program and Director of Operations at the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre. "The technology allows communication on a scheduled as well as ad hoc basis, based on the communities' needs."

It will also connect the mental health communities, allowing for mental health and psychiatric consultations, greater collaboration and stronger follow-up with clients.

"Enhanced communication with clients and mental health services providers around mental health issues will contribute to building safer, healthier and stronger communities," says Marion Cooper, Mental Health Promotion with the Winnipeg Health Region. "Greater access to people who can help children and youth manage their mental health concerns and greater communication between mental health service providers are very positive actions to take to build our community's mental health."

Telehealth is presented by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority through the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre and the Province of Manitoba. The Winnipeg Health Region is contributing $195,200 for this pilot program to help prevent suicide. The province of Manitoba is contributing $378,000 to the program as a component of Manitoba's Reclaiming Hope: Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy.

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