B.C. has 10-year road map to guide seam­less men­tal health, ad­dic­tion care, Darcy says

The Prince George Citizen - - News -

VAN­COU­VER — The Bri­tish Columbia gov­ern­ment is rolling out what it says will be a “seam­less sys­tem” to help those with men­tal health or ad­dic­tion chal­lenges.

Judy Darcy, min­is­ter of men­tal health and ad­dic­tions, says A Path­way to Hope is a 10-year vi­sion for care aimed at quickly as­sist­ing and sup­port­ing those in need. Darcy and Pre­mier John Hor­gan made the an­nounce­ment at Moun­tain­side Sec­ondary School in North Van­cou­ver, say­ing four pri­or­i­ties highlight the first three years of the pro­gram.

The pri­or­i­ties in­clude a fo­cus on the well­ness of chil­dren, youth and young adults, sup­port­ing Indige­nous-led so­lu­tions and im­prov­ing the qual­ity of care while removing bar­ri­ers, such as the cost of long-term coun­selling.

Darcy says the fourth pri­or­ity will es­tab­lish im­proved sys­tems of ad­dic­tions care, build­ing on work done al­ready to ad­dress the over­dose cri­sis.

The min­is­ter says the NDP gov­ern­ment has al­ready com­mit­ted $2.5-bil­lion for men­tal health and sub­stance abuse ser­vices.

She says fund­ing for the newly an­nounced ini­tia­tives is in ad­di­tion to pre­vi­ous com­mit­ments and in­cludes $10 mil­lion in grants to non-prof­its of­fer­ing af­ford­able coun­selling.

“We are not cut­ting the over­all bud­get, we are ad­ding to it,” she said.

Pro­grams due over the next three years in­clude more ac­cess to af­ford­able coun­selling and sup­port, in­te­grated teams bring­ing men­tal health ser­vices to lo­ca­tions where young pa­tients feel safest, and more cen­tres of­fer­ing health and well­ness re­sources and sup­ports di­rectly to 11- to 19-year-olds.

Two new in­ten­sive day pro­grams will be avail­able for chil­dren and youth with se­vere men­tal health or sub­stance use chal­lenges who are leav­ing hos­pi­tal care, and the Min­istry says 20 new fam­ily care home spa­ces will be de­vel­oped as an al­ter­na­tive to hos­pi­tal­iza­tion.

Some of the pro­grams can be launched very quickly, and pro­pos­als would be is­sued im­me­di­ately seek­ing agen­cies ready to of­fer af­ford­able coun­selling, Darcy says.

“So that’s go­ing to go out right away, with a very short time­line for peo­ple to get in their ap­pli­ca­tions, and then the money would flow very quickly.”

Hor­gan said too lit­tle at­ten­tion has been paid to men­tal health and sub­stance use care by pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments.

“A Path­way to Hope lays out our plan to help peo­ple now and im­prove the health and well­ness of all Bri­tish Columbians in the long term,” he said.

“We’re tak­ing a provincewi­de ap­proach to build a sys­tem of care where ser­vices are al­ways within reach and peo­ple have the sup­ports and op­por­tu­ni­ties they need.”

The B.C. di­vi­sion of the Cana­dian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion said the gov­ern­ment’s move to fo­cus on pre­ven­tion and early in­ter­ven­tion is a great start.

Di­vi­sion CEO Jonny Mor­ris said fu­ture fund­ing to the sys­tem and com­mu­nity, a fo­cused look on workforce needs and an im­ple­men­ta­tion plan and tar­gets will help make the plan a re­al­ity.

“We know that the sys­tem needs to move from re­spond­ing to crises to­wards sup­port­ing peo­ple early in ill­ness, be­fore things get worse. We need to work proac­tively so peo­ple stay healthy in the first place. That is no small shift, but it is imperative we get there, and this plan is a great be­gin­ning point.”

CP FILE PHOTO

Judy Darcy, Bri­tish Columbia Min­is­ter of Men­tal Health and Ad­dic­tions, re­sponds to a re­porter’s ques­tion in Winnipeg on June 29, 2018.

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