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If you are having an immediate mental health crisis, please click here to see a listing of mental health crisis lines and services available in Manitoba.

Guide to Manitoba's Mental Health System

Over the past 10 years, there have been significant changes in the way mental health services are delivered in this province, as well as changes in the values that underlie them.  For example, there has been a shift from institutional-based care to community-based care.  Greater emphasis has been placed on providing an accessible continuum of community services which are as close to home as possible, and consumer and family participation in the planning and implementation of service has been encouraged.

  • In 1997, the responsibility for the delivery of mental health services was devolved to Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) in Manitoba.  A breakdown of roles and responsibilities at the provincial and the local level is provided. During this time, Manitoba Health identified the mental health services that should be accessible to all Manitobans.
  • There are several mental health services centrally provided (i.e., funded or administered) by Manitoba Health, Healthy Living and Seniors (HLS).

HLS, in collaboration with Manitoba Health, develops provincial policies and strategies and is also responsible for coordinating planning related to mental health services, working with Manitoba Health and the Regional Health Authorities.

Questions regarding the roles and responsibilities of Manitoba Health, Healthy Living and Seniors in the mental health system can be directed to Mental Health and Spiritual Health Care Branch staff by calling the number listed at the bottom of this page.

Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) in Manitoba assumed responsibility for the governance and operations of health services in 1997 and 1998.  RHAs have operational responsibility for mental health services including planning, delivery and ongoing management of the services.

Questions regarding the responsibilities at the local level can be directed to the Regional Health Authorities.

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Mental Health Services and Supports

Community Mental Health provides comprehensive assessment, case management, rehabilitation/treatment, supportive counselling and crisis intervention, community consultation and education. Community Mental Health services are operated by Regional Health Authorities and assist people with mental health difficulties to develop coping and living skills and obtain other community services needed to meet their living needs and personal goals. There are several types of community mental health workers including Adult Workers, Child and Adolescent Workers, and Psychogeriatric Workers.

Intensive Case Management Programs (ICM) work with individuals who have clearly identified goals in areas like school, work, home or their social life. This program provides more intensive and continuous support than the community mental health worker model, and has a strong emphasis on psychosocial rehabilitation. People entering the Intensive Case Management program usually have a strong desire to make major changes in their lives, but require support and assistance in achieving these goals because of mental health difficulties.

The Program for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) works with persons who have a persistent and severe mental illness and experience serious difficulties in meeting basic daily needs in the community. These individuals frequently have co-occurring disorders (both a mental health and substance abuse diagnosis) and are at high risk of hospitalization and homelessness. A Program for Assertive Community Treatment was implemented in Winnipeg in 2000.

Proctor Programs provide supportive services to assist individuals to develop community living skills and other social, recreation, and/or educational interests and goals. Proctors are usually casual paraprofessionals who work under the direction of community mental health workers (CMHW or ICM), usually in accordance to an established rehabilitation plan.

The Forensic Community Service, operated by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, provides specialized services to individuals under the auspices of the Criminal Code Review Board. It has a varied mandate, including case management in the Winnipeg area and consultation with mental health agencies and health care providers throughout the province. This service has a strong treatment and rehabilitation focus, which addresses both daily living needs and safety issues of the programs' clients, their families and the community.

The Provincial Special Needs Program offers highly individualized services to persons with a mental health disorder or disability who pose a high risk to themselves and are not eligible for other existing services. Services include in-depth assessment, consultation, case management, and coordination of community-based program and support options.

Mobile Crisis Units provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to persons experiencing emotional or mental health crises. Services are provided in the community, usually within individuals' residences and includes screening and psychiatric assessment, crisis intervention and counselling, referral and short-term follow-up with other mental health and social services. This service is provided by various Regional Health Authorities.

Crisis Stabilization Units are short-term community-based settings that provide mental health intervention to persons who require specialized mental health supports but not hospitalization. Crisis stabilization units usually have a nurse on shift who is able to assist with medication management and other medical and psychiatric issues. Individual stays in crisis stabilization units vary considerably, but usually do not exceed two weeks.

Safe Houses are short-term residential settings for individuals who require a caring, supportive environment to help them manage an emotional or mental health crisis. Safe houses are often staffed by consumers, and usually do not have the nursing expertise to manage acute psychiatric crises.

Crisis Lines provide telephone crisis intervention and suicide prevention services by trained volunteers and staff. These services provide immediate and short-term interventions, and can serve as referral links to other community mental health services. Most mobile crisis units and crisis stabilization units also provide telephone crisis intervention.

Help Lines are peer support telephone services that provide basic support, practical assistance, and information to persons struggling with emotional or mental health issues. These are not crisis lines, although they may make referrals to crisis lines and other mental health services.

The Manitoba Farm and Rural Stress Line provides province-wide phone support, counselling, practical assistance and information persons whose lives are in any way affected by farming, agriculture, and rural living. The line also a web-site which provides up-to-date information about services and resources available to rural Manitobans.

Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Teams provide immediate and short-term interventions to persons who have experienced a potentially traumatic event. Critical events can include suicides, murders, major accidents and other emergencies. Critical incident debriefing teams provide post-trauma debriefings, education, and referral to longer-term community resources.

Self-Help and Family Supports are most often provided through formal associations of people, many of whom are either living with a mental illness or have family member with a mental illness. Self-help activities include mutual support, public education, advocacy and consumer-oriented services that promote the needs and priorities of people with mental health difficulties.

Prevention, Promotion and Public Education Services are advisory and education services to the public and professional groups, often provided by RHA mental health programs and self-help organizations.

The Mental Health Education Resource Centre of Manitoba is a lending library providing educational information to providers, consumers, caregivers, educators and the general public. The centre has a collection of books, videos, journals, presentation kits and newsletters on mental health. Information is also available through the centre's web-site that includes an on-line lending library.

Vocational and Employment Supports provide assistance to persons wanting to pursue and secure employment. Services include career guidance counselling, education and training, referral and job finding assistance, and employment placement. Programs vary from pre-vocational education and on-site job training to casual employment placement.

Housing and Community Living Programs are available to persons who may experience difficulties living independently because of mental health difficulties. Supported housing (non-facility based) assists people to choose, obtain, and keep housing in the community. Other housing service options vary from residential care facilities (which provide a full range of services including meal preparation, medication administration, laundry, and assistance with daily living skills) to supportive housing options (which focus on rehabilitation and the development of independent community living skills).

Social and Recreational Programs offer a variety of supports and skill development activities for persons interested in becoming involved in social and leisure activities. These activities are structured to assist people with mental health difficulties to pursue individual interests and develop meaningful social and living roles within their community.

Cross-Cultural Mental Health Specialists provide community mental health assistance to persons with mental health difficulties that have difficulty accessing and using community resources because of language and cultural differences. Many of these people may be refugees or recent immigrants to Canada. Services are similar to those provided by community mental health workers, although with increased attention to ethnic and cross-cultural issues. This is a Winnipeg Regional Heath Authority position.

Acute-Care Treatment Facilities provide psychiatric care and treatment in inpatient psychiatric units of general hospitals or community health centres operated by Regional Health Authorities.

Outpatient Services are provided at many community hospitals and health centres. These services include identification, assessment, treatment and case management services for persons with mental health difficulties.

The Selkirk Mental Health Centre is the provincial psychiatric facility that provides extended treatment, long-term extended forensic treatment, and rehabilitation services to persons with severe and persistent mental illnesses whose treatment needs cannot be met by other service providers. The Selkirk Mental Health Centre also provides acute treatment for residents of specified geographic regions of Manitoba (namely Burntwood, Churchill, Interlake, Norman, North Eastman, South Eastman) and Nunavut.

The Eden Mental Health Centre is operated by representatives of Manitoba Mennonite churches, and the community in conjunction with the Central Regional Health Authority. The Centre provides inpatient treatment, outpatient psychiatric assessment and treatment, and community mental health services including consultation to other agencies and caregivers.

The Manitoba Adolescent and Treatment Centre provides mental health services to children, youth and families. Services range from brief intervention to intensive long-term treatment and include hospital-based residential, day and follow-up services, youth forensic services, neurodevelopmental services, early psychosis prevention and intervention, educational psychiatric services, and an early childhood clinic.

The Office of the Chief Provincial Psychiatrist is responsible for numerous legislated and non-legislated functions for the province of Manitoba. These functions include administering The Mental Act of Manitoba and the Orders of Committeeship program.

The Mental Health Review Board works on behalf of Manitobans in need of mental health services. The Board hears appeals regarding any aspect of the admission or treatment of a patient in a psychiatric facility. Legislation also requires that there be an automatic review of all involuntary patients after the filing of the third certificate of renewal and annually, thereafter.

The Ombudsman is responsible for investigating complaints and reviewing compliance with access to personal health information and protection of privacy rights under The Personal Health Information Act. The Ombudsman also investigates complaints from persons who feel they have been unfairly treated by government departments or agencies, including regional health authorities and promotes the principles of fairness, openness and accountability

Mental Health Services Centrally Provided

The following is a description of existing mental health services centrally provided (i.e., funded directly or administered) by Manitoba Health.  Other services mentioned previously are delivered by the Regional Health Authorities.

Mental Health Self-Help and Public Education

Self-help organizations funded by HLS play a vital role within the spectrum of mental health services in Manitoba.  Traditional self-help is based on the principle that people with a shared condition come together to help themselves and each other cope; however, in addition to this mutual aid function, self-help has also come to provide an important vehicle for consumer, family and community involvement in local and provincial mental health issues.

Public education about maintaining good mental health, the importance of early identification and intervention, and where to go for help also contributes to the empowerment of consumers, family members, and all Manitobans.

Mental health self-help and public education in Manitoba is provided by the following organizations:

Selkirk Mental Health Centre

Selkirk Mental Health CentreSelkirk Mental Health Centre (SMHC) is the provincial residential facility that provides extended treatment, long-term forensic treatment and rehabilitation services to those persons with severe and persistent mental illness, whose challenging treatment needs cannot be met by other service providers.  SMHC also provides acute treatment for residents of specified geographic areas of Manitoba and Nunavut.

Manitoba Farm and Rural Stress Line

The Manitoba Farm and Rural Stress Line provides support, counseling and information over the phone to rural Manitobans.  Counselors are trained to provide support, information, practical assistance, and help connect individuals with services best suited to meet their needs. 

Office of the Chief Provincial Psychiatrist

The Office of the Chief Provincial Psychiatrist/Director of Psychiatric Services is responsible for numerous legislated and non-legislated functions.

As Director of Psychiatric Services, the legislated functions include:

  • administering The Mental Health Act of Manitoba;
  • administering the Orders of Committeeship program, including issuing/canceling Orders of Committeeship;
  • issuing Authorizations of Transfer; and
  • promoting proper interpretation and application of The Mental Health Act.

As Chief Provincial Psychiatrist, the non-legislated functions include: 

  • providing professional consultation to various sectors of the health care system;
  • administering and coordinating the Career Program in Psychiatry;
  • promoting recruitment and retention of psychiatrists for underserviced areas in Manitoba;
  • maintaining working linkages with relevant professional and licensing bodies; and
  • participating on numerous committees, working groups and Boards.

Provincial Special Needs Program

The Provincial Special Needs Program is a tri-departmental initiative of the departments of Healthy Living and Seniors, Justice and Family Services and became operational in the Fall of 2001. The program is comprised of a team that provides case management, consultation and support services to individuals who do not meet the eligibility criteria for the Community Mental Health Programs of RHAs, or the Community Living Program of Family Services and Housing, and who pose significant risk to themselves or the community.  For more information call (204) 945-4514.

Users are reminded that the original Acts or Regulations should be consulted for all purposes of applying and interpreting the law.  For more information, please consult the Statutory Publications Web site.

For more information about the mental health services available in your community, please contact your local RHA.

For more information, please contact:

Manitoba Health, Healthy Living and Seniors
Mental Health and Spiritual Health Care
300 Carlton Street
Winnipeg MB R3B 3M9
ph: (204) 786-7101