Mental health services lacking in Haldimand and Norfolk

Mental health services lacking in Haldimand and Norfolk

Haldimand major says immediate action is needed

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Mental health services in Haldimand and Norfolk are severely lacking, says Haldimand County’s mayor.

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“We have children, youth struggling to get services,” Shelley Ann Bentley said at a Monday meeting of the Haldimand-Norfolk Health and Social Services advisory committee. “We need to get into the school system and help these folks out before they become adults and put a strain on the system.

“We need to get boots on the ground and let’s get started on this immediately.”

Bentley made the comments after the committee received a community needs assessment report from Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit staff. She is the chair of the committee.

The assessment included interviews, focus groups, a community survey and a profile of Haldimand and Norfolk.

The community needs assessment found that 74.5 per cent of the 1,404 people who responded to the survey were somewhat familiar or not at all familiar with locally available mental health services.

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Just over 80 per cent of those who responded to the survey said the community needs more mental health services. Meanwhile, 81 per cent said Haldimand-Norfolk needs more affordable housing.

The survey also found mental health and addictions support were among the top priorities of those who participated in focus group discussions and interviews.

Participants said the need for support was “very high” and the availability of services was “very low”. As well, they said supports had long wait lists, were difficult to travel to or were expensive.

Syed Shah, the health unit’s director of public health, told the committee there currently isn’t any mental health program at the health unit.

“We are currently in the process of establishing a mental health program,” Shah said. “We want to map out what is available in the community and how best we can support them (agencies and organizations).”

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Shah said the health unit could help bridge the gap between those who need help and those who provide mental health services.

Meanwhile, residents of Haldimand-Norfolk have an opportunity to learn more about local agencies and organizations that provide mental health services starting May 1.

Agencies and organizations including the Canadian Mental Health Association Brant Haldimand Norfolk and Wellness Recovery Centre, are opening their doors to visitors as part of mental health week (May 1 to 7). The theme of this year’s mental health week is #MyStory and residents are encouraged to share their stories about mental health, recovery and wellness.

For a complete list of agencies opening their doors, their locations and times visit: www.bhn.cmha.ca/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/Open-Doors-for-Mental-Health-Haldimand-Norfolk.pdf .

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The community needs assessment was carried out in 2022 and found, among other things, that:

  • Poverty was described as both a major community issue and a major contributing factor to other local needs. It was seen as a barrier to accessing many of the things that individuals needed to be healthy including accommodation, healthy foundations and a stressor that made other issues such as mental health problems worse.
  • The population of Haldimand Norfolk increased 6.5 per cent to 116,872 in 2022 from the time of the last assessment in 2019.
  • There are 63 physicians per 100,000 population in Haldiman and Norfolk. In the rest of Ontario, the ratio is 115 physicians per 100,000 population.

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