Thursday, July 6, 2017
Canada’s opioid crisis received high level attention today in London during a roundtable discussion involving the federal health minister. Figures released by the federal government last month reveal that there were approximately 2,500 opioid-related deaths across Canada in 2016 – statistics like this spark roundtable discussions with a variety of interest groups to get to the root of the problem and identify new solutions.
Western’s Centre for Mental Health was invited to join the discussion today with other leading experts, physicians, local government officials and first line responders chaired by Health Minister, Jane Philpott.
The causes, barriers, stigmas and responsiveness associated with opioid drug use in London and Southern Ontario was examined. The discussion revolved around reducing the overall number of painkiller dependent individuals in the local area. Each participant was given an opportunity to address their concerns, recommendations, and hard facts on where their line of work intersects with the opioid crisis on a daily basis.
Dr. Claire Crooks, Director at the Centre for School Mental Health and Susan Dale, Program Development and Implementation Coordinator for The Fourth R were among the group of experts invited to bring their work into the conversation. Crooks revealed how The Fourth R programming, and specifically the implementation of the Healthy Relationships Plus Program (HRPP) seeks to combat drug use and substance abuse issues before they become out of hand and turn into addictions - just one way in which to bring skills and evidence-based support into a small groups learning sessions.
Among the roundtable discussion participants was facilitator Dr. John Doerksen, Vice-Provost (Academic Programs) at Western University who acknowledged the opioid crisis and Western’s various divisions that are contributing to the solution. The group also had the chance to hear about the current drug use trends in London as detailed by Dr. Christopher Mackie, Medical Officer of Health for the Middlesex London Health Unit.
There is no doubt that this roundtable has brought forward many concerns to the federal government and fueled the need for further discussions.