Fort Erie, ON – The Niagara Ontario Health Team – Équipe Santé Ontario Niagara (NOHT-ÉSON) is looking to speak with young people from Fort Erie who recently accessed emergency services for mental health or addictions-related (MHA) care. The organization wants to understand the reasons for seeking out emergency services as part of a pilot project to identify the current gaps in accessing community services for mental health and addictions.
The NOHT-ÉSON’s project team, with representation from MHA service providers, primary and acute care providers, emergency medical services, community services, and Indigenous and Francophone service providers across Niagara, selected 18 to 25-year-old Fort Erie residents for the pilot. Preliminary data showed approximately 20% of Fort Erie residents from this age group visited an emergency department (ED) or an urgent care centre (UCC) over the last two years.
“We wonder if access to community resources to assist 18 to 25-year-olds who may experience challenges related to mental health and addictions in the southern portions of the Niagara region differs from the larger city centres like St. Catharines and Niagara Falls,” said Hrishikesh Navare, the NOHT-ÉSON’s Project Manager for Mental Health and Addictions.
“According to the Town of Fort Erie, there are nearly 8,000 residents without a family doctor. How many young people there have timely access to a primary care provider like a physician or nurse practitioner? What other factors may have caused them to seek out emergency services? The NOHT-ÉSON wants to know why the ED and UCC visits took place. From there, we can develop system solutions and assist people access appropriate help when and where they need it.”
The organization wants to engage with community partners on this project as part of the NOHT-ÉSON’s commitment to fostering meaningful partnerships. In addition to 18 to 25-year-olds from Fort Erie, community partners include their family members, caregivers, and health and social service professionals. Participants will be invited to take part in a focus group or share their lived experiences navigating the health system.
People wanting more information on the pilot project can contact Josie Faccini, the NOHT-ÉSON’s Engagement Specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 905-933-4149.
Once the pilot is complete, the project team plans to expand their area of focus region-wide and develop preventative strategies to reduce the number of ED and UCC visits for MHA-related care.
Niagara residents are reminded that resources and support for mental health and addictions can be found on the NOHT-ÉSON’s Resource Navigator webpage. Adults seeking information on MHA services in the region can call Access Line Niagara at 1-866-550-5205. Children’s MHA services (18 years of age and below) are available by calling Contact Niagara at 905-684-3407 or visiting their website.