Help is on the way for Prince Rupert residents suffering from mental health and substance abuse problems.
Northern Health is adding a new psychiatric liaison nurse position to the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital, along with hospitals in Prince George and Fort St. John.
The funding for the position stems from the Ministry of Health’s 2014-15 investment of $20.25 million distributed to health authorities, enabling a greater focus on prevention, early intervention, treatment and sustainability for those suffering from mental health and substance issues.
“Mental health and substance use challenges are not only an urban issue, but also seen in rural and remote parts of our province,” said Northern Health chief executive officer and president Cathy Ulrich in a statement.
The nurse on hand in Prince Rupert will help with duties such as quickly assessing the patient and determining the best avenue of support – either community-based or in-patient care.
North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice applauded the decision to add the position by Northern Health.
“[This is a program that] the NDP opposition has asked government to either introduce or to maintain funding for,” she said.
“We hear a lot about the strain on police and community resources in the downtown east side of Vancouver, but there are real issues in the rural parts of the province as well. I am glad the government is taking these steps to address mental illness and addiction in the north. My hope is that these programs will be funded consistently to provide continuity of care.”
The announcement comes on the heels of an August 2014 murder-suicide incident involving a Prince Rupert mother and her autistic son.