Press Releases

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mental Health Crisis Response Centre to provide critical help during times of need: Selinger

First-of-its-kind centre in Canada officially opens June 3

Manitobans who need urgent help when experiencing a mental health crisis will now be able to easily access the care they need, Premier Greg Selinger announced today at the official opening of the Mental Health Crisis Response Centre (CRC).

“Individuals in Winnipeg with a mental health crisis no longer have to go to an emergency room for care as we open Canada’s first dedicated facility for mental health crises and emergencies,” said Selinger. “Highly skilled mental health professionals will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for those who need them.”

Every year, over 10,000 people visit Winnipeg emergency rooms (ERs) for mental health crises, with less than 15 per cent requiring hospitalization. The new Mental Health CRC will accommodate at least 10,000 patient visits and will be closely linked with Health Sciences Centre ER.

“This centre of excellence in mental health care will mean a lot to Manitobans,” Health Minister Theresa Oswald said. “With nearly one in four Manitobans experiencing mental illness in his or her lifetime, this resource will be an invaluable service to those who need it.”

Over 35 mental health professionals will work together at the CRC to provide services such as integrated mental health assessment, crisis intervention and mental health crisis treatment. They will also connect patients to key resources for appropriate followup care as needed.

Craig Heisinger, assistant general manager of the Winnipeg Jets and an advocate for mental health issues, called the CRC an invaluable resource.

“Ensuring people in crisis have a place to turn to when they need help will prevent tragic outcomes for Canadian families,” he said.

Heisinger’s developed a close friendship with Rick Rypien who played off and on from 2004 to 2011 for the Manitoba Moose where Heisinger served as general manger.  Rypien, who also played for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, suffered from depression and took his own life in August of 2011, shortly before he would have started with the Winnipeg Jets.

Arlene Wilgosh, president and CEO, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA), thanked Heisinger for his comments and for attending the announcement.

“Timely access to a variety of crisis service options reduces unnecessary hospitalization and improves the quality of life for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. It is important for these individuals to have both a place to easily access help, but also to have the support of those around them – their families and people like Mr. Heisinger.”

Dr. Murray Enns, medical director, Adult Mental Health Program, said the centre, the first of its kind in Canada, will meet the unique needs of its clients.

“Providing an accessible, safe environment for people experiencing a mental health crisis is vital to their treatment,” he said. “The emergency department, by its nature, cannot provide the calm and supportive environment that is ideal for working through a mental health crisis. The CRC can.”

The idea for the centre was born out of recommendations from individuals who have experienced a mental health crisis and their families, from service providers and from Emergency Care Task Force members, all of whom expressed a need to provide those working through a mental health crisis with an alternative to the emergency room.

The crisis response centre will also provide individuals with mental health issues, and those with co-occurring mental health and addiction issues, with links and referrals to specialized treatment, rehabilitation and support services.

The centre is designed to be a central access point for adults experiencing a mental health crisis and expressing concerns such as:

  • personal distress and the risk of potential harm associated with an immediate crisis including suicidal behaviour;
  • signs and symptoms of a condition requiring urgent mental health assessment and treatment;
  • intense emotional trauma where assessment, crisis intervention and linkage to other services can occur; and 
  • an immediate risk after hours when the ongoing mental health service provider is not available.

The new centre will also be home base to the Adult Mobile Crisis Service, which currently provides crisis intervention and suicide-prevention services to 10,000 adults in Winnipeg every year.

The new Mental Health Crisis Response Centre is located on the corner of Bannatyne Avenue and Tecumseh Street and was built with $12.3 million in health infrastructure funding from the Manitoba government.

CRC Backgrounder

CRC Pamphlet

Craig Heisinger Backgrounder

For more information contact:

Bronwyn Penner-Holigroski
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Tel: 204.926.7868 | Cell: 204.782.2898

Naline Rampersad
Cabinet Communications
Tel: 202.945.1494

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