Manitoba moves to hire five new clinical psychologists

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The province has announced funding to add five clinical psychologists to work in the public health-care system.

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The province has announced funding to add five clinical psychologists to work in the public health-care system.

Manitoba Minister of Mental Health and Community Wellness Sarah Guillemard announced the $853,000 recruitment and salary spend at the opening of a new mental health unit at Victoria General Hospital.

“We know that stress related to the (COVID-19) pandemic has increased mental health issues across Manitoba and Canada — this has created added pressures on an already taxed mental health system,” Guillemard said Monday, adding the hires will help address wait times and service gaps.

ERIK PINDERA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Sarah Guillemard, mental health minister, announces provincial funding of $853,000 for clinical psychologists, as well as mental health initiatives at Victoria General Hospital.

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority clinical health psychology lead Dr. Andrea Piotrowski said the medical staff, who require a doctorate and residency, will work within the hospital and out-patient system to assess and diagnose mental health issues.

Two of the new psychologists will work in child and adolescent services (including in-patient at Children’s Hospital); two will be in adult services (one at Health Sciences Centre Women’s Hospital’s perinatal services, providing pregnancy related care); one will work in adult forensic services closely with the justice system (meant to address delays in court proceedings).

Manitoba Psychological Society president Dr. Jo Ann Unger said the spend was a good first step.

“We’ve been facing a critical and chronic shortage of psychologists — effective assessment and treatment for many physical and mental health conditions benefits from the multi-disciplinary team approach and psychologists are important partners in that work,” said Unger.

“However, with so few of them in the publicly funded system, many clinical teams have no access to psychologists.”

She noted the province has the lowest rate of psychologists in the country — approximately 20 per 100,000 people, compared to the national average of 50 per 100,000.

“Psychologists working across the public and private sectors have been sounding the alarm as wait lists become longer and longer or they close altogether as Manitobans struggle to find the appropriate care for their needs,” Unger said.

Monday’s announcement came at a news event where the Victoria Hospital Foundation said it’s secured $1 million of the $1.78 million needed for two new initiatives at the south Winnipeg hospital.

That included the new six-bed mental health assessment unit, which is secluded from the rest of the hospital and includes a patient lounge and two units meant for patients who need even further seclusion.

The foundation also announced its going to break ground on a $580,000 greenspace on the hospital’s grounds, which it said is meant to support mental health patients, allowing for outdoor treatment programming, including recreation therapy, exercise programs and cultural ceremonies, as well as gardening and arts and crafts.

Construction is slated from July to the fall.

erik.pindera@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @erik_pindera

Erik Pindera

Erik Pindera
Reporter

Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.

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Updated on Monday, June 27, 2022 7:25 PM CDT: Updates photo.

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