Nfld. & Labrador

Group petitions for all-party mental health committee

Members of a coalition backed a petition presented in the House of Assembly on Thursday, urging parties to take a united front to tackle mental health issues.
Members of the Community Coalition 4 Mental Health gathered in St. John's to put forward a petition for a 3-party government committee on mental health. (CBC)

Members of the Community Coalition 4 Mental Health backed a petition presented in Newfoundland and Labrador's legislature on Thursday, urging parties to take a united front to tackle mental health issues. 

Prior to going to Confederation Building, members met at Holy Heart of Mary High School in St. John's — the spot where the group first held its public meeting on mental health.

Mark Gruchy, president of the Canada Mental Health Association-Newfoundland and Labrador, said it is time the three parties in the legislature come together to find solutions to the many mental health problems plaguing the province. 

"Society's perception of mental health concerns and their priority has reached an all-time high, and we are at a point where we have this capacity for the first time — historically, really — to come together to speak with that one voice," Gruchy said.

"What needs to be done in the areas of mental health service provision — we're talking about treatment, we're talking about homelessness, we're talking about poverty, we're talking about a great number of issues that touch pretty well everyone," Gruchy said.

The coalition includes 50 members and organizations in the mental health sector whose goal is to unify areas of mental health. 

New Democrat MHA Gerry Rogers presented the petition, which contained over 1,000 signatures, to the House of Assembly on Thursday afternoon. 

While Health Minister Steve Kent liked the idea, he did not agree to an all-party committee.

Instead, Kent said the government will embark on a new mental health strategy, which will begin with consultations in the new year.