Film illustrates link between addictions, mental health

Strengthening mental health services -

A new Prince Edward Island-made short film speaks to the importance of seeking help as the first step in recovering from addiction.

Health PEI - with funding from Health Canada’s Drug Treatment Funding Program - commissioned Island film maker Jenna MacMillan to bring greater awareness to addictions and their relationship to mental health. The 10-minute documentary-style short includes interviews with clinicians from a variety of services available to Islanders and their families and is available at

“There is a lot of stigma around addiction,” said registered nurse and Addictions Services East supervisor Susan Silva, one of several health care providers featured in the film. Silva herself is six years into her recovery from alcohol addiction.

“People tend to view people as being weak and that’s not the case,” she said. “I have struggled with this myself and almost didn’t survive my addiction. To be able to be on this side of things and to be able to give back to people is such a blessing.”

“It’s really challenging for family members when it appears that their loved ones need help,” says Health PEI’s chief administrative officer of mental health and addictions Verna Ryan, who was also interviewed in the film. “It’s frustrating and, quite often, the family members become so engrossed in what is going on that they themselves become affected. Seeking help is always the right choice.”

On Prince Edward Island, addiction services are offered as both an in-patient and community-based service in communities across the province. Depending on the individual’s addiction, support is available at every stage of their recovery journey including withdrawal, rehabilitation and living recovery.

"Recovery from addictions can be a long and difficult road, we are working to ensure that the best supports are available to Islands seeking help," said Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson. "It is crucial that Islanders working to rebuild their lives have a range of accessible support services available to them, whatever their path to recovery may be."

Investments in addiction services in recent years has reduced wait lists for treatment and fostered new initiatives to increase supports for Islanders and their families, such as:

  • expanding the Opiate Replacement Therapy Program to Kings County;
  • expanding the Provincial Addiction Treatment Facility’s Transition Unit from 10 to 18 beds;
  • implementing the Community Reinforcement Approach Family Training (CRAFT) program that teaches families how to support getting their loved into treatment;
  • introducing an acupuncture service as part of addictions programming across the province to mitigate craving, anxiety and sleep issues; and
  • introducing the Adult Services Renewal initiative to increase the availability of group programming, as well as individual counseling and support.

For more information about mental health addiction services on Prince Edward Island, including treatment and support programs, visit

Media contact:

Amanda Hamel


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