The province is working on a five-year mental health action plan, Manitoba mental health, wellness and recovery minister Audrey Gordon announced Monday.

Gordon said the government is in the consultation phase of a plan aimed at supporting a coordinated system for prevention, treatment and recovery.

“Several reports have been commissioned in the last several years, and many of these recommendations have been implemented,” Gordon said.

“We are building on this work to create a five-year action plan for mental health, wellness and recovery to inform priority areas and make it easier for Manitobans to find and access the right care at the right time and in the right place.”

The action plan will focus on five key areas: evidence-based, data-driven services; service access and coordination; substance use and recovery; population health and wellness; and service governance and accountability.

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Gordon said the plan isn’t set in stone, and the consultation process with stakeholders and the public will help in its ongoing development.

The province will support the work of community-based agencies that are responsible for direct patient care.

One such agency, the NorWest Youth Hub, said it has seen increased traffic for mental health services throughout the pandemic — something that is expected to be an ongoing concern.

“From January 2020 to March 2021, we have seen a 500 per cent increase in referrals for counselling,” said Nancy Heinrichs, executive director of NorWest Coop Community Health.

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“We anticipate this demand will continue long after we emerge from COVID-19.”

Gordon said the completed five-year plan will be made public before the end of the year, after a request for proposals taking place this summer, and a public engagement campaign in the fall.

Click to play video: 'Manitoba to fund new beds for mental health crisis program'

Manitoba to fund new beds for mental health crisis program

Manitoba to fund new beds for mental health crisis program

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