In the Spring of 2017, the Mayor of Grand Bank NL reached out to the CEO of Eastern Health asking for help; his community was losing too many people to suicide. Eastern Health engaged communities in a series of consultations (4), where 144 people responded that Mental Health and Addictions were top health priorities that they wanted addressed, and they strongly voiced that they wanted to be part of the solution. A Stakeholder Group was established, with representation from communities, first responder groups, Eastern Health Staff, physicians, Schools, community and support groups and people with lived experience. Through coaching, led by a trained facilitator, this stakeholder group operated within a Primary Health Care Framework, and began to examine where improvements were needed. One of the primary issues of concern was access to Mental Health and Addictions Services (MHAS).
From July 2016 to November 2017, the Burin Peninsula lost 14 people to suicide, averaging one per month. At this time, MHAS had a waiting list of 100 people; a waiting time of up to 8 months. MHAS staff were feeling maxed out and overwhelmed. They spent a lot of time on paperwork with large caseloads and were managing a no-show rate of 30%. Clients who were referred as being at risk of suicide were prioritized as a 1, however may have still waited up to 1 month for service. Although this was within the national benchmark, the Stakeholder Group was not at all satisfied with this wait. The Stakeholder group critically examined all the processes involved in accessing services and determined that the ideal state was to ensure all people had access to Mental Health and Addictions Services (MHAS) when they needed it.
In November of 2017, MHAS started transitioning from a long term appointment based service, to a walk in service, recovery focused service.
In current state, MHAS has 0 waiting list; waiting times are minimal and only based on weekday service. People are accessing services from a variety of locations, and are being seen when they present for service. There have been 1820 presentations for service to date. Since January 2017 there has been no lives lost to Suicide on the Burin Peninsula.