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HealthLine is expanded

Health officials with Sun Country Regional Health Authority (SCHRA) are pleased with the provincial government's expansion of Saskatchewan's confidential health advice telephone line, called HealthLine.

Saskatchewan Health announced recently it has made mental health specialists available on a 24-hour basis through HealthLine, as an enhancement to its medical crisis response service.

Healthy Living Services Minister Graham Addley said the change is a logical next step to expand capacity to offer mental health crisis support and go beyond just providing information.

"Saskatchewan is the first jurisdiction in Canada to include a dedicated mental health and addictions crisis component in its health advice line service," Addley said.

"Our goal is to provide another simple way for people in crisis to quickly access the help they need, and we believe using HealthLine is an ideal way to do that," he said.

In SCHRA, Janice Giroux, Vice President of Community Health, and Duane Schultz, Regional Director of Mental Health and Addiction Services, applaud the move.

"This initiative will enhance the existing services in our health region by providing residents, especially those in more rural and remote areas with an additional social work and psychiatric nurse service, available after hours when regular Mental Health and Addiction staff are unavailable," says Duane.

"While we do have after hours services available in the form of Psychiatrists on-call and phone contact with our own psychiatric nurses at the Mental Health Inpatient Unit, we see this provincial enhancement as a further benefit to our residents, potentially providing needed, "on demand" crisis
intervention counseling as well as referral services to our existing day time programs," he says.

Gale Pryznyk, Regional Director of Primary Health Care for SCHRA, also applauds the move.

"HealthLine and its electronic partner HealthLineOnline have proven to be wonderful resources to all residents of Saskatchewan, including those in this region," says Gale.

"In 2006, roughly 300 HealthLine calls were generated monthly by residents in SCHR. This latest expansion of HealthLine services is a welcome addition to the 24 hour telephone health advice provided by HealthLine," she says.

"While HealthLine will continue to link people with services that are available in Sun Country Health Region, access to this newly added, confidential, professional counseling service is a huge step forward in providing immediate response in a time of crisis," says Gale.

HealthLine nurses, after assessing callers, will now be able to transfer them to dedicated social workers or registered psychiatric nurses, who are specially trained to handle crisis calls and provide referrals.

Saskatchewan residents can access help by calling 1-877-800-0002 or by visiting HealthLine's website at www.healthlineonline.ca.

Media: For more information, please call Janice Giroux, Vice President of Community Health for Sun Country Regional Health Authority, at 842-8665 or Duane Schultz, Regional Director of Mental Health and Addiction Services at 842-8665.

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