B.C. Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau speaks during a media availability following her speech at the UBCM convention at the Victoria Conference Centre in Victoria, on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The B.C. Green party would spend $1 billion over four years to incorporate mental health care into the province's public health insurance program, if elected.

Green Leander Sonia Furstenau announced her party's plan to incorporate mental health care into the provincial Medical Services Plan on Monday in a pitch to voters ahead of the Oct. 24 election.

"Mental health issues are affecting increasing numbers of British Columbians and we need to treat it like any other health issue by properly resourcing it in our public system,” said Furstenau.

“Mental health care is failing at all levels, from early intervention for children and youth through to tertiary care for adults with complex psychological problems."

The Green leader noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed further psychological strain on British Columbians, especially young people who are stressed about climate change and housing affordability.

"For many patients, even just a few appointments with a psychologist can significantly improve mental and physical health," Furstenau said. "We need to invest in mental health services at every stage of British Columbians’ lives so that they can be supported to live healthy, fulfilling lives."

The Greens' billion-dollar plan would include early intervention for youths with mental health needs and enhanced outreach services for the homeless. The party says it would also develop a "Loneliness Strategy" and accelerate the construction of mental health-care facilities and drug detox spaces.