County Mental Health Initiative would see co-ordinator in Eganville

·2 min read

Eganville – A new mental health initiative for the Highway 60 corridor jointly funded through various agencies should be unveiled soon as COVID-19 continues to take a toll on mental health.

“As we all know, mental health services in our area are virtually non-existent,” Bonnechere Valley Mayor Jennifer Murphy told a committee of council January 19.

While still in the early stages a plan is in place to have an individual who would work out of Eganville as a coordinator. Funding is from the Phoenix Centre, Whitewater Bromley Medical Centre and Tyerman and Daughters, as well as other support from West Champlain Family Health Team, Children’s Services (Renfrew County) and Bonnechere Valley. This newly formed “Renfrew County Mental Health Initiative” will provide a way for people to connect to existing services.

The funding will hire a coordinator and public relations staff member who will be based in Eganville. The mayor approached council on the issue, noting BV was asked to “be the employer” and do the payroll, even though the funding will all be from the other agencies. More information and a full report would come in early February, she said.

“This person is a coordinator,” she explained. “It’s more of a data compiling role to see where we can allow our residents to be sent to for their different needs.”

Councillor Merv Buckwald pointed out there is a lack of mental health support and this is the real issue.

“I don’t want to rain on your parade,” he said. “But at one time there were only two psychiatrists in Renfrew County and there may be only one now. It is fine to direct people but where are they going to direct people? Where are the services to be provided? That is the question.”

Mayor Murphy said the question the group wants answered is where the resources are and if they are not in Renfrew County, why aren’t they? She also highlighted another initiative recently unveiled.

“And I am sure everyone heard of this initiative for February to go dry,” she said. “We also have some pretty serious substance abuse problems right now. Alcohol, drugs, etc. and it’s not in Bonnechere Valley, it’s not in Renfrew County, it’s everywhere.

“I’m by no means saying Bonnechere Valley has a problem, I’m saying we have a systemic problem and I think this is an excellent way to start,” she said.

The “Dry Feb” initiative Mayor Murphy referred to is from the Canadian Cancer Society and is asking people to go dry in February, raise funds for people with cancer and also have other benefits including “clear your head, more energy, sleeping better, weight loss, healthier skin and a sense of achievement.”

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader