06/07/2013 01:45 EDT | Updated 08/07/2013 05:12 EDT

Saskatchewan appoints commissioner to review mental health, addictions issues

SASKATOON - The Saskatchewan government has appointed a clinical psychologist with 15 years of front-line experience to lead a review of mental health and addictions services.

Dr. Fern Stockdale Winder of Saskatoon wants to hear from people with mental health challenges, their families and others about what works and what doesn't.

"It will be crucial to our work to be able to hear from people with lived experience and from family members about how they've actually found the system and what they think could be different," Winder said Friday.

She said there must be a "strong effort to hear people whose voices may sometimes be a little bit less heard."

Winder specifically referred to children and adolescents, people in the corrections system, First Nations and Metis.

The goal is to develop a plan to strengthen interventions for mental health and addictions problems.

Stockdale Winder, who has also served on the Mental Health Commission of Canada, said her experience has helped her appreciate the reality of mental health and addictions issues and observe the strengths and weaknesses when dealing with them.

There's good work being done on innovative programs, "but at the same time, we do have some gaps in the system," she said.

"We have places where people don't have ready access to the services that they need or those services aren't delivered in a timely fashion.

"I think it really is important to be looking at this now and to be saying what could we do to improve this."

The commissioner is expected to report recommendations to Health Minister Dustin Duncan in the fall of 2014.