LGH work­ing to re­duce self-harm rates in re­gion

Health au­thor­ity has num­bers over three times the na­tional av­er­age

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Front Page - BY EVAN CA­REEN

The Vi­tal Signs re­port pro­duced by the Har­ris Cen­tre of Me­mo­rial Univer­sity came out a few weeks ago and some of the statis­tics in the re­port are eye­catch­ing.

One of those statis­tics is re­gard­ing self-in­jury hos­pi­tal­iza­tion rates. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port the en­tire prov­ince is ap­prox­i­mately 30 per cent higher than the na­tional av­er­age and Labrador Gren­fell Health (LGH) is over three times higher than the na­tional av­er­age.

The na­tional av­er­age of self­in­jury hos­pi­tal­iza­tion rates is 68 peo­ple per 100,000 peo­ple. LGH rates are 231 peo­ple per 100,000 peo­ple. Since LGH serves a pop­u­la­tion of about 37,000 peo­ple, that means ap­prox­i­mately 85 peo­ple were hos­pi­tal­ized for de­lib­er­ate bod­ily in­jury in 2016-17.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the rates in LGH are sim­i­lar to rates for the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries and the Yukon.

Sandy Pen­ney, re­gional di­rec­tor of men­tal health and ad­dic­tions for LGH, said they’ve been aware of these statis­tics for some time now, since the data is from 2016-17, and have been work­ing on ways to mit­i­gate these rates.

Pen­ney said it’s im­por­tant as well to un­der­stand ex­actly what self-in­jury means.

“When peo­ple see that they think sui­cide or sui­ci­dal ideation, but it’s not,” she said. “The two are very dif­fer­ent.

“When we talk about self­in­jury it’s the act of some­one de­lib­er­ately harm­ing their own body. It’s typ­i­cally not meant as a sui­cide at­tempt.”

She said it can re­fer to things as cutting and burn­ing and is usu­ally a way peo­ple use to cope with pain in their lives. They’ve been ad­dress­ing it through the prov­inces plan on men­tal health and ad­dic­tion is­sues, ti­tled Towards Re­cov­ery: A Vi­sion for a Re­newed Men­tal Health and Ad­dic­tions Sys­tem. The re­port had 54 rec­om­men­da­tions, which Pen­ney said they have been adopt­ing.

As part of putting that re­port to­gether Pen­ney said they spoke with a lot of peo­ple with lived ex­pe­ri­ences and com­mu­nity groups.

“We have im­ple­mented in our re­gion many of the new ini­tia­tives, which we cer­tainly be­lieve is ad­dress­ing these high rates of self-in­jury in our re­gion as well as many other men­tal health and ad­dic­tion con­cerns,” she said.

Pen­ney cited the change to a walk-in ser­vice from an ap­point­ment-based ser­vice for men­tal health is­sues in Happy Val­leyGoose Bay, Labrador City, Nat­u­ashish and She­shat­shiu as an ex­am­ple of one of the changes.

“Where be­fore peo­ple would have been wait­ing on a list, now those peo­ple who self-in­jure can get the help they need in a more timely way, when they need it,” she said.

She said they have also be­come very ac­tive in set­ting up com­mu­nity coali­tions, where peo­ple with lived ex­pe­ri­ences work col­lab­o­ra­tively with LGH to im­prove ser­vices in the sys­tem. The coali­tion in Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay, for ex­am­ple, worked with LGH to change the sys­tem to a walk-in ser­vice.

“We didn’t just go out and change the sys­tem,” she said. “We worked with peo­ple who had been in the sys­tem and re­ceived our ser­vices to change the ser­vice, as op­posed to do­ing it and let­ting peo­ple know what we’ve done, we’re en­gag­ing com­mu­nity mem­bers more and more all the time.”

When LGH brought in the mo­bile cri­sis re­sponse team in Labrador West, that was also a re­sult of com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion, Pen­ney said.

The com­mu­nity coali­tions will be set up in the other ar­eas LGH ser­vices, such as the North­ern Penin­sula, in the com­ing months.

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