Claudia den Boer, board chairperson of Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor-Essex County, announcing an expanded partnership with Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, on March 15, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

“It’s a jewel”. CMHA expands partnership with HDGH

An expanded partnership between a local healthcare group and the Canadian Mental Health Association promises even more access to crisis services.

The CMHA is broadening its already successful alliance with Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, announcing Friday a direct approach to improving access to mental health services, using their Crisis and Mental Wellness Centre in downtown Windsor as a starting point.

The expanded partnership is in response to the increasing demand for mental health services, as well as a need for clients to focus on getting the help they need rather than trying to move through a maze of agencies and resources. HDGH president and CEO Janice Kaffer said in January 2017, 48 walk-in clients were served at the downtown wellness centre. In January of this year, that number had quadrupled to 203.

Claudia den Boer, the board chairperson of the CMHA Windsor-Essex County, said the focus placed on the wellness centre has already made a difference with room to grow.

“It’s a jewel that we have in our community,” said den Boer. “We think that there’s an opportunity to really build upon this. We’ve talked about wanting to ensure there is this single point of access.”

The Crisis and Mental Wellness Centre is geared toward those who frequently use emergency services to access mental health resources as a way to take pressure off law enforcement, paramedics and hospital emergency departments. Many clients are homeless, at risk of being homeless, or living in substandard housing. Some have had minor scrapes with the court system yet are not considered dangerous offenders.

The partnership is in response to remarks made last month by Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Christine Elliott, who promised a different strategy in Ontario’s health care system and alluded to the need for agencies to strengthen any existing relationships between them.

Den Boer said it comes down to a new method of delivering these resources.

“We know that this is a significant barrier, so one of the key things we are wanting to endeavour here is to actually deliver the services differently so that we can leverage those resources more efficiently,” said den Boer.

Complete information on the Crisis and Mental Wellness Centre is available on the CMHA Windsor-Essex official website.