Stronger mental health, substance use services to help young people thrive

CKTB - NEWS - Children mental health child

Press release from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions on September 2, 2020:

Better, seamless mental health and substance use care for children and youth in three more school districts will support families through new integrated child and youth teams in Richmond, Coast Mountains and Okanagan-Similkameen.

"For too long, young people and their families have had to knock on one door after another to access the mental health and substance use services they need," said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "These integrated child and youth teams will ensure help is available when and where it's needed, so that children and youth are able to not just survive - but thrive."

Integrated child and youth (ICY) teams work to fill gaps in the current system of mental health and substance use care. This model of care has been successful in other jurisdictions with positive results, including reduced wait times, better health outcomes and increased engagement at school.

What makes ICY teams stand apart is their integrated, multi-disciplinary approach and focus on culturally safe practices. A young person in need will receive services and supports tailored to their unique situation, delivered by a team of experts. Team members may include school counsellors, youth substance use workers, child and youth mental health clinicians from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Elders and Indigenous support workers, primary care clinicians and psychologists, as well as family and peer support workers. The team works in a continuous, interconnected way to deliver wraparound support for children, youth and their families.

"Investing in the health and well-being of our students today will help them grow and succeed now, and for the rest of their lives," said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. "This expansion of mental health and substance use support teams will increase support for vulnerable youth, so they have the care they need and deserve to have to reach their full potential."

Teams are built to be flexible and inclusive to make sure anyone who is 18 or younger can access help as soon as they need it through a variety of ways, including self-referral, schools, primary care, community organizations and Foundry centres, First Nations and health authorities, along with the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

"We have seen the many ways in which young people can create positive changes for all of us, but when they are struggling with mental health and substance use challenges, it is crucial that we help them," said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. "We are here to provide a pathway to hope with culturally safe, tailored supports - in both larger centres and in rural areas like Okanagan-Similkameen and Coast Mountains - that help children and youth recover and succeed. These new ICY teams are part of our commitment to bringing better supports and services to families throughout the province."

Richmond, Coast Mountains and Okanagan-Similkameen join Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows and the Comox Valley, bringing the total number of school districts with ICY teams to five since they were first introduced in July 2019. Funding for the teams is part of the Province's $74-million investment over three years announced in Budget 2019 to support mental health initiatives for children and youth. It is estimated to take up to one year for programs to get up and running.

Implementing this program in three more school districts is another step forward in building the comprehensive system of mental health and addictions care that British Columbians deserve, as detailed in A Pathway to Hope, B.C.'s roadmap for making mental health and addictions care better for people in British Columbia.

Implementing A Pathway to Hope is a shared priority with the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.