No judgement, no stigma in new peer navigator program at Health Sciences North

There's a new peer support program at Health Sciences North for any patient coming in to the emergency room with mental health or addiction problems. 

People suffering from mental health or addiction issues can receive personal attention when visiting ER

Claudie Dorion is one of HSN's new peer navigators. Her goal will be to help people with mental health issues or addictions in the ER. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

There's a new peer support program at Health Sciences North for any patient coming in to the emergency room with mental health or addiction problems. 

The Northern Initiative for Social Action (NISA) will be operating the Peer Navigator Program in the hospital's emergency room.

A peer navigator is a specialized role that combines the navigator's own personal mental health experiences along with applied work in mental health care, allowing them to offer an effective complement to traditional clinical care, the group said in a press release Monday.

In Sudbury, Claudie Doiron will be one of those navigators. She said will be able to help by letting people know she is a survivor.

"I let them know that we have a good understanding of their mental health and if they would like to have someone to sit with and have that discussion, or just sit with them and give them a listening ear," Doiron said. 

"We've heard many many different stories and most of them are wonderful because they are continuously thankful to be able to tell their stories."

Doiron said those stories could involve the hardship of losing a loved one, or from someone who has thoughts of suicide.

"[Sometimes] they just need someone to talk to until they're able to see professionals to help them through."

The navigators also help them through, and put them at ease with hospital setting. 

"What I can do to help them is to be listening to them empathetically and have a good understanding," Doiron said. "There is no judgment. There is no stigmatization whatsoever."

Doiron said navigators can point people in the right direction for community resources.

"We have that information so that once they leave the hospital setting they have something to follow through with," she said.

The care will also help keep wait times in the emergency room "manageable," Doiron said. 

"It helps the doctors and nurses because if someone is sitting with them then their anxiety is not as high, they don't take off and or leave the premises because of the wait time."

NISA said peer navigators are now available at HSN's emergency department daily from 2:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.


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