Partners for Youth hosts community meeting, discusses future of youth mental health in N.B.

Partners for Youth held an emotional closed-door round table discussion on Thursday, allowing parents and stakeholders from around New Brunswick to speak about how to best serve youth that suffer from mental illness.

The objective of the event is to highlight the needs and experiences of New Brunswick youth and their families as they pertain to mental health services.

Attendees heard keynote speeches, participated in workshops and contributed to the conversation.

“It affects all of us,” said Bernard Richard, a former New Brunswick child and youth advocate. “Our tax dollars pay for the kinds of services we provide, and if they’re the wrong services we’ll be paying a lot more in the longer term.”

Bernard Richard a Former New Brunswick Child and Youth Advocate

After abuse allegations at the province’s adult psychiatric facility, Restigouche Hospital Centre, advocates are suggesting community-based services over the new Youth Centre of Excellence that was slated to open at the end of this year.

“It talked about critical incidents, including incidents of violence and even possibly incidents that may have contributed to the premature death of a patient,” Richard said.

The plan to open that facility ended when the report was published by provincial ombudsman Charles Murray, who recommended the Higgs government halt the opening until a full review was conducted by an outside agency.

Advocates would like to see health and support services in various communities and not one central location.

The integrated system would include varying levels of treatment such as psychiatric beds in regular hospitals, specialized foster homes and in-home support for families with children with mental illnesses. They say mental institutions are outdated and are proven to do more harm than good.

Sarah Wagner discusses changes needed to youth mental health services with Megan Yamoah

“People need to be in their homes where their natural supports are, where their families are, where they have potential for employment and community involvement,” said Sarah Wagner, executive director of the New Brunswick Association for Community Living.

The results of the forum will be directed to related government departments as they revive discussions on their existing plans for the centre.

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