London city hall: Committee expected to consult with patients and families before launching mental health strategy

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London is inching closer to inking its mental health and addiction strategy, but it will first seek input from patients and families this fall.

The city’s community and protective services committee will receive a progress report on the multi-year initiative Tuesday, the latest development in the effort to co-ordinate mental health and addictions services across multiple London agencies.

“My goal with mental health and addiction is results. I want to see better outcomes for those who need help in our community,” said Coun. Mo Salih, chair of the community and protective services committee.

“I don’t think one can pretend to have one answer. It’s challenging, but I’m hoping we can do better for those in need.”

In 2016, council approved $200,000 to develop the community strategy, a sum spread over two years.

In June, a consultant was hired to draft the plan and an advisory council was created the next month with representatives from the South West Local Health Integration Network, the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Middlesex branch, the Middlesex-London Health Unit, Vanier Children’s Services and Addiction Services Thames Valley.

Now the consultants are looking for input from other sources, too.

“We envisage our next steps to be focus groups with service providers and patients and their families,” wrote Jill Tansley, manager of strategic programs and partnerships, in an email.

Through all the consultations, the team is looking for recommendations to provide better experiences and outcomes for Londoners with mental health or addiction issues.

Coun. Phil Squire wants housing to be a priority in the final report, expected to be presented to council in December.

“There isn’t available housing for people suffering from mental illness. If they’re not hospitalized, they need supportive housing,” he said.

“We have a lot of mental health treatment, but it’s the supports in the community that are really lacking.”

Squire also wants drug treatment options to be more accessible, especially for mental health patients facing addiction issues.

“I want to see some real strides in those areas and co-ordination,” he said.

“I’d like to see fewer reports, less meetings and more actual on-the-ground co-ordination between the different groups.”

The co-ordinated mental health and addiction strategy comes as the Middlesex-London Health Unit gears up for public consultation of its own on supervised drug injection services in the city — a prospect that’s already on the radar of two business groups.

Locations haven’t been determined, but Downtown London and the Old East Village BIA are asking the city to set zoning rules for the sites where drug users inject illicit substances under medical supervision.

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