NEWS

Crisis Response Centre opens

Invaluable for those in mental health crisis

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Health Minister Theresa Oswald and Premier Greg Selinger pull the wrapping off "A New Day Will Dawn", a triptych by artist Kathleen V. Crosby, in the lobby of the new Mental Health Crisis Response Centre.
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The Crisis Response Centre is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is located at the 817 Bannatyne Avenue, at the corner of Tecumseh.

To reach the Mobile Crisis Service, call 204-940-1781.

BY SUSIE STRACHAN
Winnipeg Health Region
Published Tuesday, May 28, 2013

An emotional Craig Heisinger helped launch the new mental health Crisis Response Centre today, calling the one-of-a-kind facility an invaluable resource for those in need.

The Assistant General Manager of the Winnipeg Jets joined Premier Greg Selinger, Health Minister Theresa Oswald and Arlene Wilgosh, President and CEO of the Winnipeg Health Region, in officially opening the centre at a special ceremony.

Located at 817 Bannatyne, the $12.3 million facility is designed to provide urgent treatment support to those experiencing a mental health crisis, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The centre is operational on June 3.

"Individuals in Winnipeg with a mental health crisis no longer have to go to an Emergency room for care as we open Canada’s first dedicated facility for mental health crises and emergencies,” said Selinger. “Highly skilled mental health professionals will be available 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week for those who need them.”

Heisinger and the Jets have taken a strong interest in mental health issues following the death of hockey player Rick Rypien, a former member of the Manitoba Moose, Vancouver Canucks and Jets. Rypien, who suffered from depression, took his life prior to the start of the 2011-12 season.

Speaking to the large crowd attending the opening of the centre, Heisigner halted several times as he talked about his friend.

“Rick was a player known for his intensity and his ability to play the game on the edge,” Heisinger told those attending the opening.

“However what many didn’t know was that Rick was dealing with something that he didn’t share: he was always on the edge,” said Heisinger. “This centre is an important tool, helping people 24 / 7, giving them help in those moments when they need it the most.”

The centre will be a central point of access for adults experiencing a mental health crisis, providing expert, short-term treatment and support through walk-in and mobile services, along with scheduled appointments and links to appropriate services and support.

“The purpose of the centre is to deal with acute distress for people experiencing a crisis and to assist with strategies for crisis resolution and resiliency and coping,” said Carolyn Strutt, Director of Adult Mental Health with the Winnipeg Health Region.

Every year, over 10,000 people visit Winnipeg Emergency Departments for mental health crises, with less than 15 per cent requiring hospitalization. The new centre can accommodate up to 10,000 patient visits and will be closely linked with Health Sciences Centre’s Emergency Department.

Wilgosh thanked Heisinger for flying in from Toronto to take part in the opening. She also praised the families and mental health service providers who insisted that people in mental health crisis needed something other than what was available in an emergency department. “Out of that need, we created the Crisis Response Centre. It’s truly a case of community participation in action.”

Selinger said the centre is one of several mental health initiatives that will bolster Manitoba’s presence in the field. Others include anti-bullying legislation, building housing for the mentally ill and teaching school children to resolve conflict without violence.

Over 35 mental health professionals will work together at the centre to provide services such as integrated mental health assessment, crisis intervention and mental health crisis treatment. They will also connect patients to key resources for appropriate follow-up treatment.

Dr. Murray Enns, Medical Director, Adult Mental Health Program for the Winnipeg Health Region, said the centre – the first of its kind in Canada – will meet the unique needs of its clients. “Providing an accessible, safe environment for people experiencing a mental health crisis is vital to their treatment,” he said. “The Emergency Department, by its nature, cannot provide the calm and supportive environment that is ideal for working through a mental health crisis. The CRC can.”

The centre will also provide individuals with mental health issues, and those with co-occurring mental health and addiction issues, with links and referrals to specialized treatment, rehabilitation and support services. It is designed to be a central access point for adults experiencing a mental health crisis and expressing concerns such as:

  • Personal distress and the risk of potential harm associated with an immediate crisis including suicidal behaviour;
  • Signs and symptoms of a condition requiring urgent mental health assessment and treatment;
  • Intense emotional trauma where assessment, crisis intervention and links to other services can occur; and
  • An immediate risk after-hours when the ongoing mental health service provider is not available.

The new centre will also be home base to the Adult Mobile Crisis Service, which currently provides crisis intervention and suicide-prevention services to 10,000 adults in Winnipeg every year.

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