Nova Scotia’s children and youth will have access to additionalmental health care services from a new treatment centre inHalifax. Health Minister Angus MacIsaac opened the new, 12-bedcentre and launched its new mental health program today, Jan. 22. “Today, we are opening the doors to better mental health care forNova Scotia’s children and youth,” said Mr. MacIsaac. “In thepast, we’ve had to send children to other provinces for this kindof professional treatment, but now we can help families withinNova Scotia.” The new program was announced in February 2003. It provides amental health residential rehabilitation treatment centre for 12-to 19-year-olds who require medium to long-term residentialservices. These youths typically have severe and persistentmental health problems or behavioural issues. The new service is part of the IWK mental health program. Thecentre, called the Adolescent Centre for Treatment (ACT), wasdesigned to have a home-like atmosphere, with three apartment-style living spaces, each with four beds. The facility also hasclassrooms for schooling, some recreational space, and space forday programs for children and youth. It will reach full occupancyover the next several months as aspects of the program are phasedin. “We are pleased that the IWK plays such an integral part in thisexciting step forward in providing intensive, long-term treatmentfor children and youth,” said Hal Schmidt, president and CEO, IWKHealth Centre. “The ACT program will give young people in themost need a chance to grow into healthy adults in ourcommunities.” The minister said today that two intensive, community-basedtreatment teams, announced last year for Halifax and Cape Breton,are also up and running, helping young people and their families. The IWK team began in July 2003 and is based at the new centre. The community team in Cape Breton began its work in June 2003,and has received about 70 referrals to date from within themental health program and from such agencies as the Children’sAid Society, addiction services and probation services. “The importance of being able to provide mental health servicesto children and youth in their own communities cannot beoverstated,” said Dr. Linda Courey, director of mental healthservices with Cape Breton District Health Authority. “Our teammembers are experiencing great success by working closely withthe children and youth, and their families. This program is areal enhancement to the traditional office-based approaches thattend to be less effective with children or youth suffering fromsevere and persistent mental illness or severe, disruptivebehaviour disorders.” Mr. MacIsaac said the treatment teams and the ACT program areimproving the delivery of mental health care. “Over the years,study after study showed we had serious gaps in mental healthservices for children, so I’m pleased to show clear signs ofinvestment and commitment for them.” The 12-bed centre and two teams will cost about $3.1 millionannually to operate. In addition to these new programs, the Department of Healthannounced in November how an additional $2 million in mentalhealth funding would be spent for 2003-04. Much of the money isbeing used for child and youth mental health services across theprovince, including the hiring of more mental health staff andcase managers, and the creation of a new navigation service tohelp patients and their families at the IWK Health Centre. The Department of Health sets the policy direction for healthcare in Nova Scotia. It also provides funding for the IWK HealthCentre and the nine district health authorities that deliverservices in communities throughout the province.