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Province, corporate partners collaborate on youth mental health hubs

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The province of New Brunswick is collaborating with two corporate partners to spend $6 million to make it easier for youth to access mental health and addictions services.

Sherry Wilson, the minister responsible for addictions and mental health services, announced Friday in Moncton that the provincial government is spending $4 million, while Medavie Blue Cross and Bell is contributing $1 million each.

The money will be spent over the next three years to get six integrated youth wellness hubs across the province up and running.

“It is so important that we offer evidence-based treatment and supports to young people and teens,” said Wilson. “If interventions happen now they can alleviate a lifetime of addiction and mental health struggles.”

The wellness hubs will be for youth aged 12 to 24 and will be located in the Acadian Peninsula, Elsipogtog First Nation, Fredericton, Moncton, Neqotkuk First Nation and Saint John.

Each hub will be a physical location where youth can access health and social services.

Three of the hubs are scheduled to open by the summer of 2024 and three more will follow by the summer of 2025.

Wilson said some of the hubs are already accepting youth, while others will open in 2025.

Sherry Wilson (left) and Bruce Fitch (second from left) are pictured at the Hotel Delta Beausejour in Moncton, N.B., Friday.

Health Minister Bruce Fitch said providing youth mental health services is a priority for the province.

“When you put on top of that some of the work we’re doing with mental health and addictions and homelessness, there’s a significant amount of money being invested in mental health and addictions here in the province of New Brunswick,” said Fitch.

How the hubs are run and how they will look will be done with input from the communities where they are located and each location will have a variety of services including:

  • mental health and substance use support
  • primary health care
  • education, employment and training support
  • peer support for youth and families
  • social and community services
  • other services based on local needs and priorities

Medavie CEO and former New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord said the need for youth mental health services has evolved since he was in office.

Lord said there’s been a steep increase in the number of youth reporting depression and anxiety.

“Just in the last 12 months that number went from 39 per cent to 56 per cent. That is a large increase. That is a lot of young people that get up every morning and unfortunately are struggling,” said Lord.

The province is also partnering with the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Bell-Graham Boeckh Foundation as well as the Royal Bank of Canada.

Bell Let’s Talk Chair Mary Deacon praised everyone involved in the initiative.

“This pan-Canadian collaboration means that the lessons learned here in Moncton and across many other communities in the country will help inform how to make service better for young people everywhere,” said Deacon.

Bell Let’s Talk Day takes place Jan. 24.

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For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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