Groups seize on standstill over youth mental health centre
Organization that supports a move holds forum to discuss options on Youth Centre of Excellence
Representatives from 40 groups and agencies involved in youth mental health met in Fredericton on Thursday to discuss the controversial youth mental health facility in Campbellton.
The future of the centre was called into question when the provincial ombud, Charles Murray, recommended cancelling the project after his damning report on the psychiatric hospital next door.
"We're not convinced that the facility in Campbellton is the right thing to do," said John Sharpe, the director of development with Partners for Youth, which organized the forum.
That organization is calling on the province to reconsider locating the youth centre, which is partially built in Campbellton, and instead make care more central.
It's not alone.
The former child and youth advocate Bernard Richard said that instead of institutional care, there needs to be more access to community care.
"Those services should be delivered in Campbellton, of course, but they should be delivered as well in Saint John, in St. Stephen, in Fredericton — in communities throughout the province so that kids are close to their networks, to their loved ones, to their families, to their schools," he said.
The province stopped work on the interior of the centre in response to Murray's report last month on the Restigouche Hospital Centre, which described incidents of mistreatment and inadequate care of patients
Albert Cyr, a retired psychologist and parent of an adult son with schizophrenia, said it's difficult for young people to reintegrate after being institutionalized far from home.
His son was a patient at Restigouche.
"It took him six months to be discharged while he was ready to be discharged much sooner," Cyr said. "Because there was no capacity in the community and I was very active too to fight for his discharge because being at Campbellton, it's a long way, and I couldn't be there all the time that I needed to be with my son."
Sharpe said it's time to restart the location debate while the project is on hold.
"We have a renewed opportunity to have a discussion in order to figure out how to get this right."
Findings from the forum will go to the ministers of health and social development, Sharpe said.