Today marks the first day of Substance Use Awareness Week in Manitoba.
Bernadette Smith, Manitoba’s minister of housing, addictions and homelessness and minister responsible for mental health, said Manitoba recorded more than 400 deaths related to mental health and addictions last year.
“We can do better and we must do better as a community,” she said.
To get things moving in the right direction, and as part of Substance Use Awareness Week, the province and Shared Health are hosting a series of webinars from Tuesday to Friday. They include an overview of substance use among older adults and an overview of Sunshine House’s mobile overdose prevention site.
“This week provides an opportunity to exchange knowledge, ask questions and start conversations about the impacts of substance use on individuals, families and communities,” said Denisa Gavan-Koop, Manager specialized services, prevention and education for the Shared Health Mental Health Center. Health and addictions.
Smith said it’s important to bring attention to and discuss addiction awareness.
“You don’t have to look further than the streets surrounding the Legislature to see many of our community members who are suffering. »
This year, the theme of the week is “inspiration, innovation, inclusion”.
Ben Fry, chief operating officer of Shared Health Mental Health and Addictions, said each of the three points is essential to recovery from addiction.
“The road to recovery can be long and winding for clients, and the need for inspiration – whether it is encouragement from healthcare providers, family or friends – is acute. vital importance in helping people struggling with substance abuse and dependency.
Laura Lapointe, an advisor to Shared Health’s Patient and Family Advisor Network, said inspiration was important in her personal journey.
“Throughout my experiences, I have lost many people close to me and I feel blessed to be here and alive today. This was possible thanks to the inspiration of my family who supported me throughout my challenges,” she said.
Fry also highlighted the vitality of innovation to meet the growing demand for mental health and addiction work.
Dr Shay-Lee Bolton, co-lead of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Center with Mindfulness, said the demand for CBT “is so great that we simply don’t have enough clinicians to provide this individualized treatment to all those who need it. »
To bridge the gap, treatment took place in a cla*sroom-like setting for a “low-pressure alternative, which might feel more comfortable and less frightening as a starting point.”
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Lapointe said that, in his experience, the waiting lists are long. “Accessibility is not always possible for those who need it most and who seek help. People die while on waiting lists.”
Recent innovations include the rise of virtual care options, Fry said. Yet more can always be accomplished.
“Our government is committed to helping Manitobans access comprehensive supports, listening to experts for best practices in prevention, harm reduction and treatment,” said Minister Smith, “as well as to promote education and destigmatize addictions for years to come.
The latest note of education and destigmatization fits into the chant of inclusion, Fry said, which “remains a permanent foal of the mental health and addiction system” and emphasizes culturally appropriate services.
“We all know, and it has been well documented, that respectful and background-sensitive services lead to greater confidence in the care they receive.
Lapointe said that “we need to start basing our opinions about people who use substances on facts and not on fear.” Fear, she says, “can cause us to avoid people who need our acceptance and support in times of need.”
“What we need is for people to better understand the need to teach self-compa*sion and the importance of positive self-talk. » She said the negative, shame-based stories told by those struggling with addiction are more than enough.
Gavan-Koop agreed, saying, “They deserve our care and they deserve our compa*sion.”
Lapointe said: “We all need to let people know that they are not alone in their experience, offering to listen and accept their journey without any expectations about a person’s situation. »
– with files from Iris Dyck of Global
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