The province of British Columbia has announced it will be investing in new Foundry centres in an effort to improve access to vital services for youth.
Two of these new centres will be located on Vancouver Island. One is slated to be developed in the Comox Valley and one in Port Hardy.
The government said the development of these centres will make it faster and easier for youth and families to access mental health and substance use services and supports.
“I am so excited that young people in eight more communities in rural and urban B.C. will be able to get quick access to the mental health and substance use services they need and deserve,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.
“With COVID-19 impacting the mental health of young people in a big way, and with the overdose crisis continuing, it’s more important than ever that they have quick access to the excellent supports that Foundry provides.”
In a press release issued on Monday, the government said that the new Foundry centres on Vancouver Island will offer increased access to integrated health and wellness services for young people aged 12 to 24. Each centre will offer primary care, youth and family peer supports, walk-in counselling, mental health and substance use services, and social services.
In the Comox Valley, the centre will be opened and operated by local agency John Howard Society of North Island and in Port Hardy, it will be run by North Island Crisis and Counselling Centre Society.
“A new Foundry within a community is a sign that lets young people know there’s a place just for them where they can get the support they need, right where they live,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “Child and youth mental health workers at Foundry centres play a key role, matching young people with early interventions to help them take on challenges and get back on the road to wellness.”
According to the BC government, the new locations were chosen after a rigorous evaluation process. The process began in October 2019 with a call for expressions of interest and included several independent panels, a two-day in-person convening session, a second written submission and phone and in-person interviews with representatives from interested community organizations.
Outside of the two new Vancouver Island centres, the province selected Burns Lake, Cranbrook, Langley, Squamish, Surrey, and Williams Lake to also receive new Foundry centres.
“We were inspired by the communities that participated in the expansion process to identify the next eight lead agencies,” said Steve Mathias, executive director, Foundry. “Communities from all over B.C., urban, rural and remote, felt that this was something that their youth and families needed and wanted. We look forward to our network growing to 19 centres and eventually seeing the great impact these Foundry centres will have on youth, families, care providers and communities.”
The BC government adds that a new province-wide virtual service has recently been launched by Foundry for any youth not living near a centre. Foundry’s virtual services include drop-in counselling, peer support and family support, and will soon include primary care.
The Foundry model is part of A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s roadmap for making mental health and addictions care better for people in British Columbia.