SASKATOON -- The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has made improvements in providing access to mental health and addiction services in Prince Albert and surrounding areas - but it has more work to do, according to the provincial auditor.

"Mental health and addictions clients getting the right treatment at the right time is important to recovery," says the auditor's report, released Tuesday.

The SHA provides inpatient, outpatient and community rehabilitation and residential services.

The auditor previously reported on Prince Albert area mental health care in 2018.

By January 2021, the SHA had implemented several improvements:

  • A provincial integrated health record system and a level of care assessment tool for outpatient mental health and addiction services.
  • Processes to improve the proportion of clients showing up for scheduled appointments and documented discussions with addiction clients about the post-detox support available to them.
  • Enhanced monitoring of wait times for access to outpatient mental health and addictions services.

Still, the auditor identified key areas where more work is needed.

  • The SHA should assess client demand relative to services available, as mental health patients continue to wait longer than expected for counselling and psychiatry services in Prince Albert and surrounding areas.
  • Develop a strategy to collect mental health and addictions client service information in its health record system from external healthcare professionals such as psychiatrists to ensure complete information is available for client care.
  • Collaborate with the Ministry of Social Services for enhanced access to housing options for mental health and addictions clients as stable housing can lead to better outcomes for people living with complex mental health and addictions issues.

The provincial auditor aims to promote accountability and better management by providing Legislators and the public with an independent assessment of the government’s use of public resources.