Glen Abernethy - Mental Wellness and Addictions Recovery Action Plan

June 4, 2019
Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Mr. Speaker, many northerners continue to be held back by mental health and addictions which is why the 18th Legislative Assembly made it a priority to focus on mental wellness and addictions recovery. Today I would like to update Members on a significant milestone that we have achieved towards making sure that NWT resident who need mental wellness and addictions services can get the help they need locally and through culturally-appropriate methods.

In November 2016, the Department of Health and Social Services released Mind and Spirit: Promoting Mental Health and Addictions Recovery in the Northwest Territories Strategic Framework. This Strategic Framework has helped set the direction and focus all of our efforts in these areas since it was released. The first big deliverable to come out from the Framework was the Child and Youth Mental Wellness Action Plan which was tabled in September 2017.  Later today Mr. Speaker, I will be tabling the final deliverable under the Strategic Framework, the Mental Wellness and Addictions Recovery Action Plan.

The Mental Wellness and Addictions Recovery Action Plan outlines the immediate steps to be taken to ensure that individuals and families are offered services and supports that foster hope, promote self-determination, and build partnerships that support mental wellness and addictions recovery; and respect the uniqueness of each person’s journey.

To achieve this goal, we have identified four main objectives with corresponding actions that we will work to achieve over the next two years.  The four objectives are:    

  • Reduce stigma and increase awareness and prevention;
  • Increase supports and transform the culture of practice within the mental wellness and addictions recovery system to more fully reflect a Seamless Care Pathway Model;
  • Improve quality, coordination, and integration of services; and,
  • Strengthen peer support, aftercare, and community-based options for people living with addictions.

Mr. Speaker, this is a two-year Action Plan containing concrete and measurable activities that taken together aim to make a positive difference in the lives of residents who are facing mental health and addictions challenges. Our Action Plan will also set the foundation for expanded services to our residents going forward. 

A few examples of the types of activities that our government and partners will do to support our objectives include:

  • developing and implementing new approaches for providing NWT residents with information about mental wellness and addictions recovery services and supports;
  • enhancing access and expanding service options for clients by implementing e-mental health options for individuals and families, and by introducing flexible scheduling options like walk-in and same-day appointments;
  • improving support for individuals working to overcome addiction by implementing territorial-wide peer support options, including online approaches; and
  • We will listen to the voices of northerners with lived experience by developing a Mental Wellness and Addictions Recovery Advisory Council.  The feedback Advisory Council will give us will be used to help implement a Seamless Care Pathway model and other initiatives.

Mr. Speaker, the actions included in our Action Plan were identified through research, interdepartmental collaboration, and consultation with NGOs, experts and individuals with lived and living experience with mental wellness and addictions throughout the NWT. These are forward thinking and responsive actions, based on the reality of what it means to be facing these challenges here in the NWT.

As a government we have listened to our residents and their calls for better ways to support mental wellness and addictions recovery. We have worked passionately with our partners and stakeholders to create targeted plans to bring real improvements to the way we deliver services. Together, we are better positioned to help our residents get the culturally informed, person-and-family-centered support that we know is at the heart of a healthy, strong Northwest Territories.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.