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B.C. launches ‘A Pathway to Hope’ for mental health and addictions care

The province has unveiled a 10-year plan to help people experiencing mental health and addictions challenges.  A Pathway to Hope is being billed by the province as a roadmap for making mental health and addictions care better for people in British Columbia.

“For too long, little attention was paid to mental health and substance use care by previous governments,” said Premier John Horgan, in a news release. “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. We’re taking a province wide approach to build a system of care where services are always within reach and people have the supports and opportunities they need.”

A Pathway to Hope lays out government’s 10-year vision for mental health and addictions care with the goal of getting people the services they need in order to tackle problems early on and support their well-being. It identifies the priority actions government will take over the next three years to help people immediately and reduce demand on services down the road. The focus is on supporting the wellness of children, youth and young adults, supporting Indigenous-led solutions and improving access and quality of care, according to the province. The roadmap will also build on the ongoing work to address the overdose crisis by starting to establish improved systems of addictions care.

The roadmap was launched with mental health and addictions advocates at Mountainside Secondary school in North Vancouver. Between 2013 and 2015, the number of B.C. students reporting depression rose by 50 per cent, according to figures released by the province, and the number reporting anxiety increased by over 135 per cent. Further, 17 per cent of students reported that they had seriously considered suicide in the last year.

Initial priority actions in the three-year plan include:

* Increasing access to affordable counselling and support: expanding sliding scale and no-cost community counselling services with $10 million in grants to non-profits. This will expand affordable access for people, especially those without extended health coverage and those facing barriers related to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, social class and/or sexual orientation.

* Launching integrated child and youth teams connected to schools: establishing multi-disciplinary teams in five school districts over the next two years to bring wraparound services and supports directly to young people where they feel safe and comfortable, so families and caregivers do not have to navigate a system on their own.

* Opening more Foundry centres: increasing the number of Foundry youth centres from 11 to 19, so that young people in more communities can access these “one-stop shops” for health and wellness resources, services and supports.

* Expanding First Nations-run treatment centres: supporting the construction of two new urban treatment centres and renovations to a number of existing centres providing culturally safe access to substance use services.

* Expanding intensive services for children and youth: establishing two new intensive day programs for children and youth with severe mental health and/or substance use challenges transitioning out of hospital care, and 20 new family care home spaces with clinical care as an alternative to hospitalization.

* Supporting early childhood social emotional development: enhancing and expanding early intervention services and programs in child development centres and community-based organizations and launching new professional development tools and educational resources to support service providers and caregivers of children under six years of age.

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