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CCACs Hiring 144 Nurses For New Program Aimed at Helping Kids and Youth with Mental Health and Addictions Needs

This year, Community Care Access Centres (CCACs) in Ontario are introducing a new program, hiring 144 nurses to work with district school boards to address the needs of students with mental health and addictions issues as part of the Open Minds, Healthy Minds: Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy.

With an initial three year focus aimed at children and youth, the Mental Health and Addiction Nurses in District School Boards Program is a key investment outlined in the Strategy which will provide support to address three key areas: fast access to high-quality services, early identification and intervention and supporting kids with unique needs. The goal of the program is to provide mental health and addiction supports and services through an inter-disciplinary team involving district school board mental health leaders, mental health workers and CCAC mental health and addictions nurses for children and youth in Ontario’s 72 publicly funded district school boards.

“The success of this program hinges on fostering enhanced partnerships and connections to increase cross-sector coordination,” says Margaret Mottershead, OACCAC CEO. “Strong partnerships and a team approach with mental health leaders, mental health workers and district school board staff, as well as strong care connections between nurse leaders and district school boards, and community health and addiction providers are key.”

A partnership encompassing the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care, Education and Children and Youth Services, Local Health Integration Networks, the CCACs and the OACCAC, the program will contribute to building school-based capacity to identify and respond to student mental health and addition needs early. It is anticipated that approximately 9,000 students will benefit from this program.

Of the 144 new nursing positions, there will be 13 RN nurse leaders and 131 RN/RPNs with mental health and addictions expertise hired to provide and connect care across the health and education systems to provide seamless, coordinated integrated care.

Recruitment for the RN nursing leaders has begun. Nurse leaders will provide essential health related advice and support to the Ministry of Education’s mental health leaders in developing comprehensive board plans to address a collaborative response to the mental health needs of students and provide a supervisory role to the clinical nurses within each CCAC, ensuring program consistency.

The roles and responsibilities of the these nurses will complement, not duplicate existing roles of CCAC case managers, contracted home care service providers or district school board staff. The program builds on the role CCACs currently play in helping people navigate the health care system and connecting them to the services they need based on comprehensive assessment and care planning, while supporting coordinated and integrated care delivery. — OACCAC News, April 2012 edition

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