There has been much talk lately about bed and staffing shortages, as well as a lack of other resources, for individuals in southeastern Saskatchewan who are seeking mental health and addictions support.

Jody Miller, Clinical Lead of Addiction Services in southeastern Saskatchewan, said that she couldn't speak specifically to any kind of bed shortages, however, she said that when individuals are referred through their office to any inpatient programs, they do get a bed, there's just a waiting period.

"So, generally speaking, wait times for referral to social detox are about one to three weeks and then for inpatient treatment programs, they're about four to six weeks." 

Terry Romanow, Manager of Mental Health and Addiction Services in southeastern Saskatchewan, said, "I'd just like to add that our mental health inpatient beds throughout the province have been at or near capacity since last fall, and this is due to an increased need for services for people presenting with very severe issues."

They said that it would be ideal to have a detox centre in the southeast; Yorkton actually has a homeless shelter with some brief detox beds, but not in the Weyburn-Estevan area.

"There is an Addiction Treatment Centre run by St. Joseph's hospital in Estevan," Romanow said, "and Weyburn General Hospital does sometimes do detoxing for clients."

Romanow said there has been a 300 percent increase in severe and very severe presentation to their services, since the start of 2020.

"It was brought on by isolation and other stressors such as people being out of work when COVID hit, limited connections with family and friends, that sort of thing." 

They both explained that they have requested, but have not been given, any additional resources to meet this increased demand at this time.

Miller said that they are aware that overdoses are occurring, but they aren't aware of each specific incident. "Addiction services does participate in the take-home naloxone program, where we provide kits to individuals at risk of experiencing opiate overdose in the community, and we're regularly distributing those kits throughout each month, so it can be inferred through that that there's a definite need and that overdoses are occurring."

Overdoses can occur when a substance is used alone, Miller said, and there is increased risk when they are used in combination with other drugs. "We encourage everyone to not use alone, so that help can be called in the case of an accidental overdose."

For anyone seeking treatment for mental health or addictions, Miller and Romanow said to contact their intake number at 306-842-8693, Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For anyone requiring services after hours, they can contact 811, or for urgent matters, they can go to the emergency department.

"We basically take all referrals, whether it be a physician or self-referral, and we triage according to severity." 

There's also walk-in appointments called rapid access appointments, available at Envision Counselling and Support Centre.