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New, enhanced mental-health, substance-use services in place for B.C. young people

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 2:42 PST, Fri December 2, 2022

Young people living with substance-use challenges and their families are able to access new and enhanced substance-use services closer to home through a substantial expansion of addictions care throughout B.C.

The province is adding 33 new and expanded substance-use programs, supported by approximately 130 new health-care workers, specifically for young people. New staff includes therapists, clinicians, social workers, harm-reduction co-ordinators, epidemiologists, nurses and nurse practitioners, outreach workers, counsellors, Indigenous patient navigators and liaisons, and others.

"When young people make the courageous decision to come forward and get help, we want supports to meet them," said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "The services we are announcing increases the resources available in every health authority, meaning more young people are able to access the support they need closer to home."

The new and enhanced services vary by health authority, ranging from prevention and early intervention to intensive treatment and crisis intervention. They include:

• School and community-based prevention and early intervention

• Community-based youth substance-use and concurrent disorders services

• Crisis intervention services and intensive treatment

• Wraparound services to support youth receiving bed-based care

• System supports that will help create a more seamless system of care for youth

"There is moral distress around youth and substance use where parents and caregivers can sometimes feel powerless to protect children from the harmful effects of drugs. But the Substance Use Response and Facilitation (SURF) team at BC Children's Hospital can help navigate those waves of emotion and provide more specialized treatment for patients,” said Sharlynne Burke, provincial executive director of child and youth mental health programs at BC Children's Hospital. “With this expansion, the SURF team members can treat patients admitted to our hospital, as well as in our emergency department. They provide expertise in the assessment of the substance-use disorder severity and facilitation of more meaningful treatment."

Enhancing youth mental-health and substance-use care is an integral part of A Pathway to Hope, B.C.'s roadmap for building the comprehensive system of mental-health and addictions care for British Columbians.

To find mental health resources, visit gov.bc.ca/mentalhealthsupports.

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