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Province formally opens Mental Health Crisis Response Centre

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Lisa and Lynda Shaw in front of the new Bannatyne Avenue facility, which will have a maximum waiting time of 15 minutes for mental-health patients.

JOE BRYKSA / FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Lisa and Lynda Shaw in front of the new Bannatyne Avenue facility, which will have a maximum waiting time of 15 minutes for mental-health patients.

Premier Greg Selinger officially opened the province’s new Mental Health Crisis Response Centre (CRC) today.

The $12.3-million CRC, at Bannatyne Avenue and Tecumseh Street, begins accepting patients June 3.

"Families dealing 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," Selinger said in a statement. "Highly skilled mental health professionals will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for those who need them."

The province says each year more than 10,000 people visit Winnipeg ERs for mental health issues with less than 15 per cent requiring hospitalization. The CRC will accommodate at least 10,000 patient visits and will be closely linked with Health Sciences Centre ER.\

The idea for the centre was born out of recommendations from people who have experienced a mental health crisis and their families, from service providers and from Emergency Care Task Force members, all of whom expressed a need to create an alternative to an emergency room, the province said.

"This centre of excellence in mental health care will mean a lot to Manitobans," Health Minister Theresa Oswald said. "With nearly one in four Manitobans experiencing mental illness in his or her lifetime, this resource will be an invaluable service to those who need it."

Craig Heisinger, assistant general manager of the Winnipeg Jets and an advocate for mental health issues, called the CRC an invaluable resource.

"Ensuring people in crisis have a place to turn to when they need help will prevent tragic outcomes for Canadian families," he said.

Heisinger developed a close friendship with Rick Rypien who played off and on from 2004 to 2011 for the Manitoba Moose where Heisinger served as general manger. Rypien, who also played for the NHL's Vancouver Canucks, suffered from depression and took his own life in August 2011, shortly before he would have started with the Winnipeg Jets.

The crisis response centre will also provide individuals with mental health issues and those with co-occurring mental health and addiction issues. It will include links and referrals to specialized treatment, rehabilitation and support services.

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

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Updated on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 12:31 PM CDT: Complete write thru.

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