As the Province launches plans to redevelop the Riverview Lands, we remember our promise to move forward from the history of institutionalization for people with mental illness.
Our aim with mental health and substance use problems is no different than with physical health problems – supporting people in a way that allows them to return to a regular, productive and fulfilling life.
Studies have shown that transitioning individuals to more independent care in the community works. Keeping people with mental illness forever locked away is not how we as a society want to treat people, nor is it in keeping with modern clinical practice for most patients. While a small number of patients need secure, acute institutional care, we also know most people with mental illness can live an independent life with the right supports.
And that’s why the Ministry of Health is working with health authorities and community partners to create a system of mental health and substance use care that wraps around the patient and provides an improved community-based network of support.
The Province has made significant progress on a comprehensive $25-million action plan to address the needs of people with severe substance use and or mental illness concerns. In the Lower Mainland, it includes opening the Acute Behavioural Stabilization Unit at St. Paul’s Hospital, as well as almost a dozen new teams that do assertive outreach, intensive case management and assertive community treatment.
For youth, the Granville Youth Health Centre in Vancouver provides comprehensive mental health and addictions services to street youth aged 16 to 24 years. Renfrew House, a six-bed youth group home, offers housing, social supports and clinical care with $1.5 million in annual government support.
Adding to these supports, 92 new beds for people with substance use have been opened in the Lower Mainland in the past two years – part of the 500 new beds to open throughout the province by 2017. And two new mobile detox teams for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are now helping people with alcohol or other substance use issues.
Improved mental health and substance use services are a major area of focus in government’s strategy to strengthen health care in B.C. The Health Ministry invests more than $1.42 billion per year in mental health and substance use services.
Government is also building significant new facilities. Work is underway on a new 75-bed community mental health facility at the redeveloped Royal Columbian Hospital site, to open in 2019, as well as the new facility on the Riverview Lands. The new $57-million Joseph and Rosalie Segal Centre will open at Vancouver General Hospital in 2017. The new Hope Centre for Psychiatry and Education in North Vancouver, which opened last year, provides integrated hospital and outpatient services, thanks to a $38-million government investment.
Riverview has a long history of institutional care ─ but that was in a different era, a time when the institutions were visible but the patients were invisible. When we decided on a new use for the Riverview grounds, we were clear that we are not returning to a time when people were invisible.
As a government, we recognize that it takes a community-based system of care to support those facing mental health or substance use challenges, and that is what we have been putting in place.
Sarah PlankMinistry of Health