Nova Scotians with mental health problems will see new andenhanced mental health services as a result of an additional $4million funding in over the next two health budgets, says HealthMinister Angus MacIsaac. The minister made the announcement atthe IWK Health Centre today, April 14, with representatives fromthe mental health community. “This government is making good on its promise to expand mentalhealth services that will improve access to high quality careacross the province,” said Mr. MacIsaac. “Historically, mentalhealth has been underfunded, yet we are slowly making progress tochange this. With program standards in place, we can easilyidentify the areas of greatest need, which means any new dollarscoming forward can make the most difference to Nova Scotians.” The new funding will be used by district health authorities andthe IWK Health Centre to increase access to mental healthservices in three priority areas: services for children andyouth; crisis/emergency services; and community-based supportsfor those with chronic and persistent mental illness. Improvingmental health services within communities helps people get thecare they need, as close to home as possible, and helps prevent,reduce, or defer unnecessary trips to the emergency room. Over the coming weeks and months, the Department of Health willwork with district health authorities and the IWK Health Centreto identify the programs and services that will receive this newfunding. “It is good news indeed that funding is being directed where itis most needed — toward programs that support mental healthintervention and care for children and youth,” said Anne McGuire,president and CEO, IWK Health Centre. “This attention to mentalhealth care for the young assures us that access will continue toimprove, and standards will be met. This will mean more youngNova Scotians can access the mental health care they need, whenthey need it.” “New dollars for community mental health services and emergencyservices is in line with where we are focusing services in ourdistrict,” said Dr. Scott Theriault, clinical director, CapitalHealth mental health program. “We are completing strategicplanning for mental health, and additional investment willcertainly help enhance services for the people in our districtand across the province.” “I am impressed that the minister and his department are focusingon mental illness and wellness across the province,” saidCharlene Thomas, senior director, mental health program forAntigonish Guysborough Strait and Pictou County healthauthorities. “Our communities share this commitment and we areexcited about new funding that will help us better serve patientsand families who face mental health problems.” In 2003, Nova Scotia became the first province in Canada toestablish a strategic direction and core program standards formental health. These were developed with mental healthprofessionals, academics, advocacy groups, and mental healthconsumers. At the time, it was estimated that it would take fiveto 10 years and an additional investment of $20 million toimplement the mental health standards. As a first step, government added $2 million to the 2003-04budget. The addition of today’s announcement means that NovaScotia will invest more than $6 million in improved mental healthservices over four years.