The Government of Saskatchewan has taken a significant step towards enhancing mental health support for those impacted by suicide.
Earlier this week, a Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued to find a qualified organization to develop and operate a provincial suicide postvention program.
The Minister of Mental Health and Addiction, Seniors in Rural and Remote Health, and Swift Current MLA, Everett Hindley, announced the initiative earlier this week.
An RFP is a standard government process that seeks to identify an organization or group capable of delivering a specific service on behalf of the provincial government.
In this case, the government is seeking a proponent to operate the suicide postvention program, which will offer immediate support and services to individuals, families, friends, and first responders affected by suicide.
Hindley emphasized that the goal of this program is to provide crucial support during the aftermath of a suicide tragedy.
“Postvention refers to the actions that can be taken and services and supports that can be provided immediately to help families or friends, community members, or other loved ones,” he elaborated. “To provide that immediate support to those individuals, and the first responders as well, who have been impacted by an individual who have died by suicide.”
The program aims to streamline access to mental health services and counselling for those who have lost a loved one to suicide or have experienced the impact of a suicide attempt.
Addressing the importance of the program in Saskatchewan, Hindley stressed that building strong mental health support for the province was a top priority.
“I, not only as the local MLA but as the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, have heard from individuals who have asked us or indicated to us that they would like to see something like a program like this,” he elaborated. “Where there's an additional service or something that can be made available to people who, in those very desperate times of looking for psychological and mental health support immediately following a tragedy like this, that they have access to that in a very quick fashion without having to navigate government programs or services and not knowing where to begin.”
He acknowledged that the suicide postvention program will complement existing efforts in suicide prevention and awareness.
The criteria for the organization or group to be selected include experience and expertise in mental health, with a specific focus on suicide prevention, counselling, education, and awareness.
The government expects proposals from organizations with a track record of delivering similar services, either on a regional or smaller scale.
The RFP was issued on July 31, and organizations and proponents have until August 22 to submit their proposals.
After the RFP closes, officials will evaluate the submissions and rank them based on their fit and capabilities. The government aims to announce the successful proponent in September, with the expectation that the program will be operational and accessible to Saskatchewan residents for the coming winter.
Hindley added that the program will be provided free of charge to all individuals, families, and first responders.
“This will be covered by the provincial government, by the Ministry of Health, with annual funding for the postvention program and we want to ensure that the service is not only quick and easy to access, but there's also no cost period there,” he concluded.
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