The B.C. government has announced a new 10-year plan to reduce barriers and increase services for mental health and addictions care.
“This is a beginning. We have a long journey ahead of us, but at last that journey has a map,” Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy said at a news conference in North Vancouver on Wednesday.
The first three years of the province’s plan includes $10 million in grant money for non-profit counselling services, launching integrated child and youth teams in schools – first starting in five school districts over the next two years – and creating two new intensive day programs for children transitioning out of hospital care for severe mental health or substance use challenges.
The province will also be opening eight more Foundry centres, bringing the total to 19, which serve as “one-stop shops” for health and wellness resources for youth.
The 10-year plan is based on consultation with caregivers, social workers and students across B.C. who have touched the mental health and addictions system, Darcy said, as well as the 2014 and 2018 McCreary Centre adolescent health surveys.
The McCreary report, which surveyed 30,000 students in grades 7 to 12 across B.C. about various health issues, found that a significant amount of youth reported experiencing depression, anxiety, panic attacks and attention deficit or hyperactivity disorder. The report estimated that 84,000 children aged four to 17 are experiencing mental health disorders at any given time.
Indigenous youth are likely to experience far poorer mental health and substance use challenges, the survey showed, due to experiences of stereotyping, racism and discrimination causing barriers to health care access.
Over the next three years, the province will also be funding two First-Nations run treatment centres that will provide culturally safe access to substance use services.
More to come.