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Program aims to improve rural children’s mental health

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The Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba has launched a program to improve mental health support for children and youth in rural areas.

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The Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba has launched a program to improve mental health support for children and youth in rural areas.

A team of mental health professionals will use Manitoba’s eHealth service to create advisory groups and infrastructure for young people with mental health issues. Digital health services can include trauma-informed therapy, support groups, and hybrid models of care both online and with an in-person clinician.

“Pediatric reports highlight an imminent need to address the child mental health crisis and ensure children in need of services can receive adequate care,” said Stefano Grande, president and CEO of the foundation, in a statement.

Pediatric reports highlight an imminent need to address the child mental health crisis, says Stefano Grande, president and CEO of the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba. (Ethan Cairns / Winnipeg Free Press files)

The “Promoting Innovation in Mental Health through e-Health Excellence” — PRIME, for short — will receive its full funding of $150,000 a year for the next three years from the Sobeys Family of Support fundraising initiative.

The program hopes to target the high demand for mental health care at Children’s Hospital, an issue exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Through evidence-based eHealth interventions, PRIME’s goal is to help reduce wait times, provide supports, services and access to rural communities and reduce health system costs,” said Dr. Terry Klassen, the CEO and scientific director of Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba.

“EHealth technologies offer tremendous potential to advance the reach and efficacy of mental health therapeutics to an increasingly digital-connected population while also enhancing in-person services, tailored to community needs.”

Rural communities have long called for additional mental health supports.

Island Lake First Nations have called on the provincial and federal governments to work with them on a strategy to combat rising mental health issues in the wake of recent suicides and suicide attempts.

In October, on Red Sucker Lake First Nation, where a 16-year-old boy took his own life on a playground, leaders said they needed more mental health supports.

malak.abas@freepress.mb.ca

Malak Abas

Malak Abas
Reporter

Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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