Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy-Anne McPhee photographed at a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on June 9, 2020. (Alistair Maitland Photography)

Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy-Anne McPhee photographed at a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on June 9, 2020. (Alistair Maitland Photography)

Rural mental wellness audit finds staffing shortages at new hubs

The report found improvements had been made but challenges remain

An audit from the Auditor General on mental health services in rural Yukon has found improvements have been made, but challenges remain in supporting rural residents.

The audit was released on June 7 and examines both mental health care and addictions services in the 17 communities outside of Whitehorse.

Around one in five Yukoners experience mental wellness or substance use issues every year, according to the report.

“The availability of and accessibility to mental health services is vital for people living in these communities to live healthy lives: mentally, physically, socially and spiritually,” it reads.

Mental wellness hubs

The report found that the four “Mental Wellness and Substance Use hubs” established in 2018 in Dawson, Carmacks, Watson Lake and Haines Junction have improved access for rural Yukoners.

“Overall, the Department of Health and Social Services successfully increased access to mental health services in rural communities,” reads the report. “Though the department has increased access to mental health services, it has struggled to recruit and retain staff to deliver these services.”

The audit notes that the hub model allows for continuity in care and building relationships between health providers and the greater community.

Unfortunately, attracting and retaining the positions has still been a challenge. Right now there are 33 resident staff positions, but only 26 were filled as of August 2020. The audit looks at both housing shortages and the remoteness of the communities as barriers — it notes that no housing was available for a successful candidate in Watson Lake.

It also questioned how much consultation was used in establishing the hubs, and recommended services are continually modified based on feedback from users.

The audit also notes that traditional healing and cultural knowledge must be emphasized in order to deliver care in rural Yukon. While the audit acknowledges efforts by the government to promote this, it also noted that only 60 per cent of service providers had taken a required course on Yukon First Nations history.

Recommendations

The report includes recommendations for the Health and Social Services department.

Firstly, the government needs to improve staff retention. It also needs to be a better job of working with First Nations to implement cultural safety. The audit also found the government needed to do a better job of measuring and reporting on the effectiveness of the hubs.

“We acknowledge more work is needed to improve mental health services throughout the Yukon. The recommendations from the OAG will help us achieve our goal to improve mental health and substance use services in all Yukon communities,” said Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee in a statement.

The audit covered the period from May 5, 2016 to September 1, 2020.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

mental health

Just Posted

John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file
Catherine Elliott, Yukon acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, has announced two new COVID-19 cases in the Yukon.
Two new COVID-19 cases confirmed, Porter Creek Secondary prom cancelled

Graduating students are encouraged to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms

Jim Elliot/Yukon News
Ross and Cindy Smith are finding more reason to smile as the floodwaters that almost reached their farm house were beginning to recede on June 8.
Farms on South Klondike Highway experience severe flooding

The nearest body of water is a lake almost three kilometres away

X
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for June 11, 2021.… Continue reading

Whitehorse courthouse interior on April 6, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
CYFN launches pilot program for community impact statements

First Nations will receive support developing statements after major crimes

Israr Ahmed speaks at a vigil at the Whitehorse Mosque to honour the Muslim family killed in London, Ont. on June 10. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Yukoners gather to honour Muslim family killed in London

Like many communities across the country, Yukoners came together to honour the Muslim family murdered in London Ontario

The RCMP Critical Incident Program will be training in Watson Lake from June 14-16. Mike Thomas/Yukon News
RCMP will conduct three days of training in Watson Lake

Lakeview Apartment in Watson Lake will be used for RCMP training

John Tonin/Yukon News Squash players duke it out during Yukon Open tournament action at Better Bodies on June 5.
Four division titles earned at squash Yukon Open

The territory’s squash talent was on full display at the 2021 Yukon Open

Runners leave the start line of the 2014 Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay Skagway. The 2021 race will start at checkpoint six and remain in the Yukon only. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News)
Klondike Road Relay returns to in-person after a virtual year

A modified, in-person Klondike Road Relay will be open to Yukoners

John Tonin/Yukon News Rang Pillai speaks at the Great Yukon Summer press conference on May 27.
‘The sooner the better’: Operators react to Great Yukon Summer campaign

The Great Yukon Summer campaign was announced May 27 and begins June 4

Mayor Dan Curtis stands in front of Minister Richard Mostyn and MP Larry Bagnell during an infastructure announcement made outside Jack Hulland Elementary School in Whitehorse on June 2. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Safety improvements planned for Whitehorse school zones

Enhanced pedestrian crosses are planned to make walking to school safer

2020 Haines Junction graduates line up for a photo on May 27, 2020 as part of a celebration parade through the village. While the St. Elias Community School is able to host an outdoor grad ceremony for 2021 grads this year, it will also host a parade and group photo as it did last year. (Marty Samis/Submitted)
Ceremonies and parades all part of 2021 grad

2021 sees old traditions return with some 2020 events adopted

A rendering of the proposed new city hall/services building and transit hub. (City of Whitehorse/submitted)
New city hall could cost $24.7 million

Council will be presented with latest plans June 7

Most Read