Mental Health Services in Rural Yukon—Department of Health and Social Services increased access to mental health services for rural Yukoners
Mental Health Services in Rural Yukon—Department of Health and Social ServicesDepartment of Health and Social Services increased access to mental health services for rural Yukoners
Ottawa, 7 June 2021—Today, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada provided the Legislative Assembly of Yukon with the results of an audit that examined whether the Department of Health and Social Services provided Yukoners living in rural areas with mental wellness and substance use services, including addictions services, that met their needs.
The audit concluded that the Department of Health and Social Services successfully increased access to mental health services for rural Yukoners. The department created Mental Wellness and Substance Use hubs, or clinics, in 4 key rural communities. Each hub serves a number of surrounding rural communities, making it easier for Yukoners living in these communities to access services. During the COVID‑19 pandemic, the department maintained access to services by providing phone and online options, as well as limited in-person services.
Though creating hubs has improved access to mental health and substance use services, the audit determined that the department struggled to recruit and retain staff. This is a common challenge in many northern communities, and more so in rural and remote areas. The department will need a systematic approach and innovative solutions to address this challenge.
The department also needs to set targets which it can use to measure and report on its service delivery efforts. Without such targets, at this point, the department is unable to determine whether the services being provided through its hubs are meeting the needs of Yukoners, or to track whether services are improving.
“Having accessible services in rural communities as part of a permanent local structure makes it easier for people to get the help they need when they need it”, said Glenn Wheeler, the Principal responsible for the audit. “Ongoing engagement with stakeholders will be critical for the department to identify adjustments and improvements to provide mental health services that are most needed, and culturally safe.”
The Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Yukon Legislative Assembly—Mental Health Services in Rural Yukon—Department of Health and Social Services is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website.
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