Opposition wants P.E.I.-based staff for mental health phone line
24/7 phone line was announced on Monday and is expected to be live by March 1
The Opposition health critic says the province's planned phone line that will act as a single point of contact for mental health and addictions services needs to be staffed with people on P.E.I.
Trish Altass said it's important people from the community are handling the requests for help.
"This phone line will really need to have trained P.E.I.-based staff who are able to refer people directly to services, like detox and the Hillsborough Hospital and counselling supports," Altass said.
Premier Dennis King announced the phone line during his state of the province address to the rotary clubs on P.E.I. Monday night.
He said the 24/7 line will have a "real human being" answer the phone, and will be able to help callers navigate the process to get the appropriate treatments and supports.
There were not a lot of details given about how this new phone line will work or what the number will be, but he said it will be ready to go by March 1.
There are no details yet on who will staff it or where it will be based.
While getting people triaged quickly is important, Altass said making sure staffing levels are adequate to help the people seeking assistance will be critical.
"If people are being referred to services and still have to wait for weeks or months to access those services then really we have not addressed the root causes of this issue," Altass said.
Ellen Taylor, a mental health and addictions advocate, said it's wonderful to see government committing to the single point of access.
"People will rethink getting into recovery if they find out it's a one call thing and people are going to be there to help them," Taylor said.
"If people really knew there was help out there then, I think, that's the ideal thing."
Taylor said it can be difficult for people who are seeking help to navigate all the different options.
"If more people use it, then people will know about it because … people don't know where to call or go online or know what's available," Taylor said.
"The people who are accessing the services, I think, it will make them feel more comfortable and feel successful and that is so important for recovery."
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With files from Laura Meader