Trauma Informed Care at the IWK

Yesterday afternoon Leah Parsons and I had the pleasure to speak via teleconference with Dr. Jana Davidson and Dr. Connie Coniglio regarding todays release of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Addiction Services in the Halifax Regional Municipality report. The report was “undertaken by the authors, with the agreement of the appropriate departments, to focus on the continuum of mental health services available to children and youth within the IWK and CDHA, and on the flow of children and youth into, through, and out of these services.”

We were able to go over the report in advance and on the call Davidson and Coniglio walked us through the 14 recommendations they are making. There hasn’t been many reasons for us to celebrate since Rehtaeh’s death in April but this report certainly lifted my spirits. Among the recommendations, the first in fact, is that the IWK fully “implement trauma-informed care (TIC) across the IWK MHA program and in the CDHA Mobile Crisis Response Team. The immediate priority for TIC at the IWK is the Acute Psychiatric Inpatient Unit (4S), as this is the service that provides the highest level of care within the IWK MHA programs.”

Trauma-informed care would have made a difference in the care our daughter received and it will make a big difference to other youth in need of mental health services in Nova Scotia. This is very welcome news. One of the main issues we faced with the IWK was the use of male security guards being present when Rehtaeh had her clothes removed. A sexual assault survivor should never be put in a position like that.

From Rehtaeh's Medical File
From Rehtaeh’s Medical File
[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” ]What is Trauma-Informed Care?

When a human service program takes the step to become trauma-informed, every part of its organization, management, and service delivery system is assessed and potentially modified to include a basic understanding of how trauma affects the life of an individual seeking services. Trauma-informed organizations, programs, and services are based on an understanding of the vulnerabilities or triggers of trauma survivors that traditional service delivery approaches may exacerbate, so that these services and programs can be more supportive and avoid re-traumatization.[/box]

The report identified a number of barriers to treatment including recruiting staff and physicians, delays in developing an electronic medical record system, lack of funding for youths 17 to 19 years old and lack of communication and integration between departments including justice, social work, health and mental health services offered at schools.

We had an opportunity to speak last week with the Nova Scotia’s new Minister of Health Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine along with the Minister of Justice Lena Diab and the Minister of Community Services Joanne Benard. They have assured us they will be committed to acting on the recommendations in the report and will do what they can to remove the barriers identified.

Today is an important day for youth and families in Nova Scotia who find themselves caught up with devastating mental health issues. Today feels like change and it’s a positive step forward for providers and consumers of mental health services.

[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]FOR BROADCAST USE:

An independent reviewer has released her report on child and adolescent mental health and addictions services in Halifax Regional Municipality.

The report prepared by Dr. Jana Davidson, a nationally recognized expert in children’s mental health, has fourteen recommendations to improve access and quality of mental health and addictions services. The main challenges outlined in her report include recruitment and retention of doctors, silos among those delivering services, and gaps in delivery of physical services for seventeen to nineteen year olds.

The province supports the findings of the report, which impacts all areas where children and youth can access mental health services, including the province’s health, education, justice, and social systems.

Media Contact: Tony Kiritsis 902-424-0585 E-mail:[/box]


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1 thought on “Trauma Informed Care at the IWK

  1. Dear Mr. Canning,
    Thank you for all your advocacy. I think of the precious girls in my life and hope they never endure what Rehtaeh did.

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