Lloydminster mayor voices need for more mental health, addictions resources

Some elements that Aalbers highlighted include making sure services are available, but also helping with the transition back into society.

“[People] they need help and are looking for support,” he said. “Hopefully we can start to help those who are looking for help, but haven’t looked for it.”

In a press release on the matter, Aalbers noted that the mayors of every city in Saskatchewan are receiving calls from concerned citizens, especially with the greatest need during the pandemic. Since 2020, nearly 800 people have died from drug overdoses in Saskatchewan, according to Coroner’s Service statistics.

Aalbers said that as the province opens up, that should eventually result in less stress on residents’ mental health, noting the ability to see emotions on people’s faces again when mask wearing ends. This extends from the young to the elderly, which he says is critical to the health of the community as a whole.

“Getting people out, having conversations again at tables with people drinking coffee,” he said. “No matter where you go, when people can see facial expressions, things will be easier.”

province approach

Battlefords NOW reached out to the Ministry of Health for their thoughts on mental health and addiction in the province, as well as Mayor Aalbers’ comments on resources. In an email response from communications, they shared that they fund 23 walk-in, virtual, and phone mental health counseling services in 22 communities across the province. Additionally, more residential beds are operating in Saskatchewan for persistent mental health needs, as part of the 2019-2020 commitment to provide 75 residential mental health beds across Saskatchewan.

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The response went on to say that the government is also committed to continuing to seek more opportunities to increase the number of addiction treatment and detox spaces in the province, with the goal of adding another 150 spaces in the next three years.

Other initiatives to reduce overdoses mentioned in the response included:

  • $940,000 for specific harm reduction services;
  • expansion of the free Take Home Naloxone program;
  • introduction of free access to take-home fentanyl and benzodiazepine monitoring strips at 30 locations across the province.

Information on additional mental health supports available in Saskatchewan can be found online.

[email protected]

On twitter: @battlefordsNOW

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