British Columbia

Wellness on Wheels to roll out mental health services for underserved Okanagan youth

Mike Gawliuk of the Canadian Mental Health Association in Kelowna says the Wellness on Wheels clinic, housed in a retrofitted recreational vehicle, is the result of consultation with more than 100 young people across the Central Okanagan.

Mobile health clinic launching in June aims to serve people aged 12-24 in communities around Kelowna

The Wellness on Wheels program, housed in an 11-metre long retrofitted recreational vehicle, will hit the road in mid-June. (Foundry Kelowna/Facebook)

Young people in underserved communities around Kelowna, B.C., will soon be able to access mental health services thanks to a retrofitted recreational vehicle.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in Kelowna announced the launch of Wellness on Wheels, a mobile clinic housed in an 11-metre long bright blue vehicle that's tailored toward people aged 12-24. 

Launching around mid-June, Wellness on Wheels will provide its services in West Kelowna, the Westbank First Nation and Lake Country. Services include counselling and peer navigation, in which people of similar ages share their experiences.

CMHA Kelowna's director of service delivery Mike Gawliuk says Wellness on Wheels is the mobile extension of the brick-and-mortar clinic Foundry Kelowna, which opened its doors in the city in 2017.

"It [the mobile clinic] definitely looks [and] feels like Foundry, and it's a huge addition to our services and to meet the needs of the community," Gawliuk told Chris Walker, the host of CBC's Daybreak South, on Thursday. 

"You're not going to be able to miss us when we're out on the road."

Facilities inside the Wellness on Wheels retrofitted recreational vehicle. (Foundry Kelowna/Facebook)

Gawliuk says CMHA developed the idea to create a mobile youth clinic in 2018 after speaking to more than 100 young people across the region.

"We really want to focus on areas of the Central Okanagan that are underserved," he said. "The idea behind it is that we will go to those outlying areas and to start [being] there one day a week at prescribed times, and will have an offering of services that young people can access at Foundry."

Young clients can either make an appointment or walk in.

Gawliuk says the Wellness on Wheels initiative aims to expand to medical care services at the end of this summer. It will also consider extending service hours if needed by the target communities. 

Wellness on Wheels is funded by the B.C. government's community gaming grant program, which distributes $140 million of gambling revenues every year to non-profit organizations across the province.

Tap the link below to hear Mike Gawliuk's interview on Daybreak South:

With files from Daybreak South