P.E.I. ramping up staffing, capacity for its mental health and substance abuse helpline
Prince Edward Island has created a single point of access for residents in the province seeking mental health and addictions assistance.
The province said it is ramping up staffing and capacity for the Mental Health Addictions Line, and noted The Island Helpline has been rolled into it.
The Island Helpline service transferred to the Mental Health and Addictions Access Line on Jan. 1 to provide one single point of access and a more integrated 24/7 service for all mental health, addictions and substance-use related calls. This transition also allows for access to the Mobile Mental Health Team when more urgent calls are received, the province said in a press release.
“The Mental Health and Addictions Access Line provides Islanders with the same access to phone-based supports as The Island Helpline did, if not more,” said Ernie Hudson, Health and Wellness Minister. “Staffed by trained, local health care professionals the Mental Health and Addictions Access Line offers timely access to emotional supports, assessment and treatment, and direct connection to mental health, addiction and substance use services across the province, including the in-person Mobile Mental Health Service.”
The Island Helpline number is being forwarded to the Mental Health and Addictions Access Line and it will be monitored for a six-month period with a possible extension if needed to ensure people have continuous round-the-clock access. Additional staff have been added to support the anticipated increase in calls to the phone line.
“Our compassionate team of mental health professionals offer immediate care and a safe space for Islanders, so they never feel alone. The streamlined service now makes it as easy as possible for Islanders to reach out for help when they need it, by providing timely and best practice mental health supports directly to our communities. Together with our healthcare partners, we are committed to ensuring all Islanders have access to the highest quality services and supports they need,” said Dr. Jonathan Dudek, Psychologist Team Lead, Mobile Mental Health Service.
Since launching in October 2021, the Mental Health and Addictions Access Line has received more than 3,500 calls from Islanders. Calls are answered by trained mental health professionals (a registered nurse or a social worker) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. During this same timeframe, calls to The Island Helpline decreased to an average of one to three calls per day.
“One of our goals as a government has been to create a robust, Island-based phone service that Islanders and their loved ones can rely on 24/7 for access to non-urgent and crisis mental health, addiction and substance use care. It was always our intent to absorb The Island Helpline service into the Mental Health and Addictions Access Line once it was well-established and fully operational,” added Minister Hudson.
For immediate mental health and addictions help, including access to the Mobile Mental Health Service, call the Mental Health and Addictions phone line toll-free 1-833-553-6983.
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