British Columbia

New B.C. care plan for mental health and addictions aimed at young people

The B.C. government has released their 10-year plan to better address mental health and addictions care in the province including $10 million to fund low-cost counselling.

10-year plan focuses on early intervention with low-cost counselling services

B.C. Premier John Horgan reveals the province's 10-year plan for mental health and addictions care at Mountainside Secondary school in North Vancouver on Wednesday. (CBC News )

The B.C. government released its 10-year plan Wednesday to better address mental health and addictions care in the province, including $10 million for subsidized counselling services.

"There is nothing more pressing than ensuring every young person has the supports they need to not just survive, but thrive," said Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy while making the announcement with the premier at a North Vancouver high school. 

"These longstanding problems in mental health and addictions care won't be fixed overnight. But by starting to move from a crisis-driven system to early intervention and prevention, especially for children and youth, we can help people before their problems become more severe," she  said.

Premier John Horgan criticized the previous provincial government for not keeping pace with "the obvious need in the community."

Focus on youth and Indigenous populations

The new plan called A Pathway to Hope focuses on children, teens and young adults with priorities that include improving access to quality of care and supporting solutions created by Indigenous people.

The number of B.C. students experiencing depression rose by 50 per cent between 2013 and 2015, according to a survey cited by the government, while reported anxiety rose by more than 135 per cent. About 17 per cent of students have also seriously considered suicide in the last year.

The Canadian Mental Health Association called the plan a good start. 

"It shifts the focus quite rightly to mental health promotion, intervention and targets some really key populations that have experienced a lot of inequity in access to care for some time," said Jonny Morris, CEO with the B.C. division of the CMHA.

The provincial government says it currently spends $2.5 billion annually on mental health and substance abuse through various departments, but most of that goes to hospital-based services.

Priority actions over the next three years include:

  • $10 million in grants to non-profit organizations to provide low- or no-cost psychotherapy.
  • Establishing integrated child and youth teams in five school districts. 
  • Opening eight more Foundry youth centres to provide access to mental health care, substance use services and peer supports. 
  • Supporting the construction of two new First Nations urban treatment centres and providing renovations to several existing centres. 

With files from CBC's On the Coast

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