Youth-fo­cused clin­ics open­ing

Ini­tia­tive to speed delivery of men­tal health across prov­ince

StarMetro Vancouver - - VANCOUVER / NEWS - David P. Ball

Af­ter two years, a Vancouver health ini­tia­tive con­nect­ing nearly 1,000 teens and young adults with men­tal, med­i­cal and so­cial ser­vices is pre­par­ing for its big ex­pan­sion across Bri­tish Columbia.

En­vi­sioned by St. Paul’s Hos­pi­tal psy­chi­a­trists as a “one-stop shop” for young Bri­tish Columbians un­der 24 strug­gling to nav­i­gate the prov­ince’s men­tal health, med­i­cal and ad­dic­tion treat­ment sys­tems, Foundry B.C. is about to open more youth-fo­cused clin­ics across B.C. — bol­stered by pro­vin­cial back­ing and a $1-mil­lion fundrais­ing ef­fort that ends Wed­nes­day.

“Youth and young adults have told us again and again that when you’re a teenager, you’re of­ten put on a long wait­list, it can be dif­fi­cult to know where to go for help, and that men­tal health and sub­stance use ser­vices aren’t in­te­grated,” ex­plained the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, St. Paul’s psy­chi­a­try head Dr. Steve Mathias, in a phone in­ter­view. “We re­al­ized very early there are a lot of ser­vices in var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties try­ing to sup­port youth — do­ing the best they can — but that they’re of­ten work­ing in si­los. We needed a so­lu­tion that broke down those si­los.”

In April, Foundry’s orig­i­nal clinic, the 2015-founded Granville Youth Health Cen­tre, was joined by a sec­ond site in Camp­bell River.

Soon, more of the youth­fo­cused clin­ics are set to open on the North Shore this July, in Prince Ge­orge and Kelowna soon af­ter, and then in Ab­bots­ford this fall, Mathias said. Five more will fol­low next year.

“This model, to be clear, isn’t all about new fund­ing,” he said. “A lot of it is ex­ist­ing re­sources and ser­vices com­ing to­gether and work­ing un­der one roof.

“When youth come in, it could be be­cause they broke up with boyfriend, or they have a rash and don’t know what caused it, or they’re com­ing in with psy­chosis or se­vere de­pres­sion.”

If what the youth needs isn’t avail­able on-site, clinic staff en­sure they are helped “to bridge them to a stepped-up ser­vice” in­stead of leav­ing them to fend for them­selves with what­ever health is­sue they’re con­cerned about.

“We re­ally hope this is a model that will spread across the prov­ince,” Mathias said.

Foundry’s ex­pan­sion to more B.C. cities — sev­eral of them fac­ing dis­pro­por­tion­ate rates of youth ad­dic­tion and opi­oid over­doses — co­in­cides with a St. Paul’s fundrais­ing cam­paign that’s gained the at­ten­tion of two wealthy bene­fac­tors — Diane and Bob Con­coni.

The cou­ple made head­lines in 2014 af­ter do­nat­ing the lux­u­ri­ous Pen­der Is­land home they built to the B.C. Cancer Foun­da­tion, fol­low­ing Bob’s own bat­tle with throat cancer. Three years later, the two phi­lan­thropists of­fered to match any con­tri­bu­tions to the youth men­tal health project un­til this Wed­nes­day, up to $500,000.

Bob Con­coni is a re­tired fi­nan­cial ser­vices en­tre­pre­neur who co-founded Cana­dian Se­cu­ri­ties Reg­is­tra­tion Sys­tems.

For more about Foundry B.C. — for­merly the BC In­te­grated Youth Ser­vices Ini­tia­tive — visit­st­pauls. com/sup­port­y­outh.


Phi­lan­thropists Diane and Bob Con­coni (third and ifth from left, re­spec­tively) meet with Vancouver youth in sup­port of Foundry B.C.’s in­te­grated health ser­vices for un­der-24s, soon to ex­pand provincewide start­ing in sum­mer 2017.

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