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Richmond offers integrated mental-health, substance-use supports for young people

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 3:08 PST, Thu January 12, 2023

Last Updated: 11:53 PST, Fri January 13, 2023

Children and youth in Richmond facing mental-health and substance-use challenges are beginning to receive new services and supports from the Integrated Child and Youth (ICY) teams in their community.

"Every child and family in British Columbia deserves strong health-care services, including access to mental-health and substance-use supports," said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "Integrated Child and Youth teams fill gaps and better co-ordinate mental-health and substance-use care, making it easier for families in Richmond to access the help they need, when and where they need it."

The members of the multi-disciplinary ICY teams work together to provide a range of supports, such as assessment and screening, consultation, and therapeutic services, to children and youth as old as 19. The Richmond ICY teams are connecting children, young people, and families to clinical, peer, and cultural supports, meeting young people where they feel most comfortable: in schools, homes, or community settings.

"When a child or youth is struggling with their mental health, it is essential they have access to co-ordinated supports so they can quickly get back on a healthy path," said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. "Working together in schools and in the community, these integrated teams will provide a vital layer of early intervention and wraparound services."

Richmond South Centre MLA Henry Yao said: “As a parent of young children, I am pleased to see these new ICY teams making a difference for youth. As children and youth face challenges, early intervention is key to harm reduction. Creating easier access to mental-health and substance-use services is just one example of how our government is working to address the needs of British Columbians."

Richmond is one of the first five school-district communities to launch these teams. ICY teams are also being implemented in the Coast Mountains region (Terrace and Hazelton), Okanagan-Similkameen (Oliver and area), Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, and the Comox Valley. The province has committed funding for teams in 20 school districts.

"The Richmond School District is proud to be one of the first communities to launch an Integrated Child and Youth team,” said Debbie Tablotney, Richmond School District board chair. “Early intervention and support can prevent more serious mental-health issues from developing and can help young people lead healthy, productive lives. We must prioritize the mental-health needs of our community and provide children, youth, and their families with the support and resources they need."

Carmen Huang, ICY clinical counsellor with the Richmond School District, said: “Having Integrated Child and Youth teams in Richmond is important because they provide a collaborative and comprehensive approach to supporting the mental health and well-being of our students and families. By bringing together a diverse range of professionals, including various counsellors and peer support workers, these teams can provide a holistic and personalized approach to addressing the needs of our communities' children, youth, and families."

ICY teams provide services to all children, young people, and families within a school district boundary, including those attending First-Nations-operated schools, independent schools, francophone schools, alternative schools, or those not in school. Children and youth can connect with ICY teams through various points of contact, such as early years services, school staff, primary care, mental-health and substance-use services, Foundry centres, and Indigenous-led organizations.

"As a health authority, collaborating with community partners, such as school districts, is critical to facilitate the early identification and support of children and youth who need support. We are pleased to expand our services through Richmond's Integrated Child and Youth team that will continue to work in close concert with existing mental-health and substance-use services already available in the community,” said Dr. Ashok Krishnamoorthy, regional medical director for Richmond, Vancouver Coastal Health.

About 75 per cent of serious mental-health issues emerge before the age of 25. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected children and youth, particularly people with pre-existing challenges. B.C. is facing an increased demand for services, with more than 28,000 children and youth receiving community mental-health services each year, which is more than double the number who received support in 2003.

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

For more information on Integrated Child and Youth teams, visit

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