The B.C. government has announced it will invest $56 million in new supports for mental health and substance use services in communities throughout the province.
The province is planning on adding new teams so young people “receive seamless service” at school and at home.
The integrated child and youth teams will deliver wraparound supports for children, youth and their families. They will be tasked with identify early when a young person needs support and connecting them to specific mental health and substance use services.
The aim of the new support teams is meant to reduce wait times, improve health outcomes and increase engagement at school.
When a child or youth that needs support is identified, the teams will work collaboratively with young people and their families to develop and deliver a single care plan with wraparound supports, which will include links to other services in the community such as primary care or early youth services.
“By linking together existing services in new ways and investing in new services and clinicians, the government is creating a seamless system of care from mental wellness promotion to highly specialized services,” reads a statement from the Province. “Children, youth and their families will have access to culturally safe and effective care when they need it.”
The integrated teams will be made up of peer support workers, Indigenous support workers, education counsellors, and mental health and substance use clinicians.
“We know many young British Columbians are experiencing stress and anxiety as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, more than ever, we need to prioritize the health and well-being of our children and youth in B.C.,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “This investment will improve access to vital services for students and families across the province and support early intervention and lifelong mental wellness.”
Over $40 million of the investment will be put towards adding approximately 350 new full-time workers in order to help support young people to access services early.
An additional investment of $16 million will be put towards expanding and enhancing the early years mental health supports. This expansion will include hiring more than 60 new full-time family support workers, behavioural consultants and infant mental health clinicians over the next three years to help meet children’s mental health and developmental needs and set them on the path to success.
“Children and youth need a more seamless care experience, particularly when they are dealing with anxiety, pain or trauma,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. “Integrated services mean children and youth who need help won’t have to repeat their story and potentially relive trauma with multiple service providers; instead, they will have an individual care plan focused on their unique needs and a team behind them to help ensure they are supported to reach their full potential.”
The government says it is working across ministries, with Indigenous partners and community agencies to build a culturally safe system of care that benefits young people and their families in communities throughout British Columbia.