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B.C. expands mental-health, substance-use supports for more young people

February 2, 2023 at 10:15 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

More children, youth and families will benefit from seamless mental-health and substance-use services as B.C. expands Integrated Child and Youth (ICY) teams to seven additional school districts.

The new multidisciplinary teams are being added in Fraser-Cascade (Hope, Harrison, Agassiz), Kootenay-Columbia (Trail), Mission, Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Okanagan-Shuswap (Salmon Arm), Pacific Rim (Port Alberni) and Powell River school districts.

“Integrated Child and Youth teams make is easier for young people and their families to connect to the care they need, where and when they need it,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Integrated Child and Youth teams fill gaps and better co-ordinate mental health, wellness and substance-use care in schools and in the community, making it easier for families to access the help their child needs.”

The new teams will connect children, young people and families to counselling, peer and cultural supports, meeting young people where they feel most comfortable: in schools, homes or community settings. Team members may include clinical counsellors connected to schools, youth substance-use clinicians, child and youth mental-health clinicians, Indigenous Elders or workers supporting Indigenous children and youth, as well as family and youth peer supports. Members of these multi-disciplinary teams work together to provide a range of supports, including assessment and screening, consultation and therapeutic services to children up to 19 years old.

“When a child or youth is struggling with their mental health and with substance use, we know how vital it is to provide them with the supports they need,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. “This is why our government is working together with integrated teams in seven more school districts across our province, to bring even more services to youth where they feel most comfortable: in schools, homes or community settings.”

These seven school districts join Richmond, Coast Mountains (Terrace and Hazelton), Okanagan-Similkameen (Oliver and area), Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows and the Comox Valley, bringing the number with ICY teams to 12. The Province has committed funding to implement teams in 20 school districts by 2024 to be fully operational by 2025.

“We have heard from students how important their mental health is to their educational success and overall health and well-being,” said Rachna Singh, Minister of Education and Child Care. “Having the Integrated Child and Youth teams working so closely with districts means that children, youth and families will have greater access to additional supports during the vulnerable years of their child’s life.”

Integrated Child and Youth teams provide services to all children, youth 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.

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.

Quotes:

Pam Alexis, MLA for Abbotsford-Mission –

“It is essential that young people get the help they need early on through prevention, treatment and comprehensive services. It is great to see the new ICY teams coming to our region. I know that they will make a difference for children, youth and their families in our community.”

Bob D’Eith, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission –

“As a father of five and advocate for increased resources for schools, I welcome the ICY teams to our communities. Mental-health and substance-use challenges prevention, and early intervention are essential to help our children and youth thrive.”

Elaine Yamamoto, chairperson, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Board of Education –

“We are excited to see the ICY teams become operational in our school district and giving our students improved access to the mental-health supports they need. The teams complement our ongoing efforts in the areas of awareness and prevention, prioritizing the health and well-being of our children and youth.”

Quick Facts:

  • Approximately 75% 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.
  • In B.C., nearly 12.7% of children between four and 18 years are affected by mental-health disorders, and 44.2% of those receive services.

Learn More:

A Pathway to Hope, government’s vision for mental-health and addictions care in B.C.: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021MMHA0049-001787

Integrated Child & Youth teams: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/about-the-bc-government/mental-health-and-addictions-strategy/integrated-child-youth-teams

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