Mental Health and Addictions Strategy

Frequently Asked Questions

Manitoba is undertaking the development of a focused provincial Mental Health and Addiction (MHA) strategy that will look at ways to improve access to and coordination of mental health and addiction services in the province.  

Q: Why a joint Mental Health and Addiction (MHA) Strategy?

A: The goal of the strategy will be to provide recommendations on how Manitoba can improve both its access to and coordination of mental health and addiction services. A few facts:

  • It is estimated that 40 to 60% of Canadians with severe mental illness will develop a substance use disorder at some point in their lives.
  • 60 to 65% of Canadians with a substance abuse disorder have a mental illness. In addition, one in five Canadians with a diagnosed mood or anxiety disorder reported using illicit drugs in the past year (20.1%).
  • Illicit drug use was more than twice as likely among those diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder than among those without either disorder (8.8%).

Additional facts:

  • 70% of mental health problems and illness have their onset in childhood or adolescence.
  • Between 2011/2012 and 2015/2016, 25.6% of Manitobans age 10 and older received medical care for at least one of the following mental illnesses: depression, anxiety, substance abuse, personality disorder, or schizophrenia.
  • From 2011/2012 to 2015/2016, there were 55,281 Manitoba residents treated for substance abuse, representing 5.0% of Manitoba residents age 10 and older.

While the mental health and addition strategy is focussed on access and coordination, it will also take a whole population approach to mental health promotion and targeting people showing early signs of mental illness or with high risk factors for developing an illness.

The compounded effects of mental health problems, illness and addiction on the lives of Manitobans are concerning. Therefore the province requires a review of these issues to positively impact the social, emotional and economic future of Manitobans.

Q: Are other provinces and territories combining mental health and addiction in their strategic planning?

A: Yes, in 11 other provinces and territories across Canada, Mental Health and Addictions initiatives are combined in strategic planning. (QC, NS, NB, PEI, NFL, ONT, SASK, ALB, BC, NWT, YK)

Q: Who will lead the strategy development?

A: VIRGO Planning and Evaluation Consultants Inc. has been contracted to support the development of a strategic plan. The Consultant team is being led by Dr. Brian Rush, with co-lead Adair Roberts, and includes consultants Dr. Amy Cheung, April Furlong, Jonathan Ramirez, Peter Butt and Dr. Chris Mushquash. Dr. Rush brings 40 years of experience in mental health and substance use system design and evaluation and project leadership and Adair has significant experience in strategic planning as well as specific expertise related to centralized access for mental health and addiction services.

They will be supported by a Project Executive Sponsor Strategy Coordinator Support and a Reference Committee of diverse stakeholders from across the province, including persons with lived experience of a mental illness and/or addiction, and family members.

Q: Is the purpose of this strategy to integrate mental health and addiction systems and services?

A: Yes, in accordance with the May 2016 mandate letter issued to the Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living, the department was directed to develop a mental health strategy combining mental health and addictions programs and services with an emphasis on better coordination and access.

Q: What populations will the strategy consider and address?

A: The strategy will address the mental health and addictions service needs of Manitobans across the lifespan, from children and youth, to adults and older adults, and will address improved access and coordination of services. It will take a whole population approach to mental health promotion and will also focus on people showing early signs of mental illness or with high risk factors for developing an illness.

Q: Will there be a consultation process with stakeholders as part of the planning?

A: Yes. The consultant will meet with key stakeholders across systems, services, sectors. Examples of stakeholders include service providers, system planners, policy makers, persons with lived experience, family members and natural supports.

Dr. Rush will use a wide range of methods to consult stakeholders. For example, there will be an extensive review of various reports, analysis and other documents by Dr. Rush and his team. This will be the first step in informing the development of the strategic plan. Where there already exists a current report or analysis, Dr. Rush will review the report and may choose to clarify the findings with the report writer or researcher. Consultation will also occur through an online survey that will be launched in August 2017.

Q: When consultations begin? End?

A: Consultations are expected to take place from June to October 2017.

Q: How will progress updates be communicated?

A: Progress updates will be accessible to Manitobans at regular intervals during the strategy development. Progress will be communicated through various means including written correspondence to key stakeholders.

Q: What is the role of the Reference Group?

A: The purpose of the Reference Group is to work collaboratively with the Consultants to review milestones and identify gaps in consultation.

Q. Who will be sitting on the Reference Group?

A: The Reference Group is a small group of up to 12 key stakeholders, comprised to be diverse in nature, representing government departments, service delivery, university, as well as lived experience. 

Q: When will the Consultant's work begin?

A: The consultant began in May 2017. The first deliverable was to conduct a literature review of key reports that provide further information about the Manitoba context and its current services and issues, which helped to inform the consultation process.

Q: What are the next steps once the report is complete?

A: Once the report has been completed, the recommendations will be delivered to the Minister of Health.