The B.C. government is committed to providing the best supports for people facing challenges associated with mental illness and problematic substance use, and has made it a priority to build a comprehensive system of these services throughout the province.
Improved mental health and substance use services are one of the major areas of focus in government’s strategy to strengthen health care in British Columbia.
The Ministry of Health spends about $1.45 billion per year in mental health and substance use services.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development will invest about $110 million in 2017-18 to address child and youth mental health and substance use challenges.
Budget 2017 provided $45 million to the Ministry of Children and Family Development over three years specifically for child and youth mental health services. This will allow the ministry to hire more than 120 mental health workers provincewide, and connect an additional 7,000 children and youth to mental health supports each year. Currently, 27,000 children and youth receive services.
Services vary depending on the type and severity of a patient’s disorder. In general, B.C.’s mental health and substance use system provides a spectrum of services, including:
- mental-health promotion strategies;
- targeted prevention and risk/harm reduction strategies;
- community-based services; and
- inpatient care.
Government commitments in support of mental health and substance use services
- A new 105-bed mental health facility for severely addicted and mentally ill patients is being built on the Riverview lands as part of the $108.6-million Centre for Mental Health and Addiction Facility Replacement Project. The centre – a partnership between the Ministry of Health, the Provincial Health Services Authority and B.C. Housing – is expected to be completed in 2019.
- $57 million for the 100-bed Joseph and Rosalie Segal Family Health Centre at Vancouver General Hospital, which consolidates the mental health programs and services delivered by Vancouver General Hospital and University of BC Hospital under one roof. It is scheduled to open in August 2017 at a total cost of $82 million.
- A new 75-bed mental-health and substance-use facility is set to open at the redeveloped Royal Columbian Hospital site in late 2019. The facility is part of the three-phase redevelopment of Royal Columbian Hospital. The first phase, which includes the mental health facility as well as an Energy Centre and parkade, started in 2016 and is expected to finish by 2019 at a total cost of $259 million.
- Introduced in November 2013, a $25-million action plan is working to reduce barriers and service gaps, and support research-based services for people with severe substance use and or mental illness.
- Under the action plan, health authorities and police partnered to help hundreds of severely addicted and mentally ill patients secure housing and employment, have fewer interactions with police and spend less time in emergency rooms. The 35 Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) and intensive case management teams now supporting clients are key to this success.
- $1.5 million of new funding over three years through the First Nations Health Authority will support the establishment of an additional Aboriginal Suicide and Critical Incident Response Team that will augment the eight existing teams throughout the province. The location of the team is still to be determined. However, it is expected to service about 12 bands and provide support to a population of 8,000 people.
- This funding will also support the First Nations Health Authority to enhance land-based and culturally safe substance-use treatment for First Nations communities. It will expand access to treatment services that take place on the land, are rooted in ceremony, and include traditional land-based activities such as hunting and fishing. Program activities include culturally based assessment, detox, treatment services with appropriate follow up/referrals, aftercare and ongoing monitoring.
- $38-million investment for the new Greta and Robert H.N. Ho Centre for Psychiatry and Education (Hope Centre) in North Vancouver, which provides integrated services for clients who require hospital care and outpatient services. The $62-million facility includes a 26-bed inpatient psychiatric unit.
- $25 million for the Community Action Initiative, which provides local grants to organizations to promote mental health and well-being for people in their communities.
- $3 million to expand and support a provincial addiction medicine education and research training program for clinicians, making it the largest in North America.
- $50 million in annual funding since 2012-13 to support integrated primary and community-care programs within regional health authorities – with one of the priority areas being mental health and substance use programs and services.
- $16.6 million to support the Bounce Back program since 2007. Bounce Back is a free, skills-building program for adults experiencing low mood or stress, with or without anxiety. The program offers self-help strategies through a video and/or series of workbooks with telephone coaching. This program will be expanded with a new web resource, Youth Bounce Back.
- Youth Bounce Back will be supported through $2.25 million in new funding over three years and an anticipated 3,000 youth per year will access the new evidence-based, online therapy service for mental health concerns, such as mild to moderate depression or anxiety.
- $17 million to complete the Hillside Centre in Kamloops in 2006, a 44-bed facility located at Royal Inland Hospital. It provides mental health services to adults and seniors with acute or significant mental health challenges, with a focus on diagnosis, stabilization and rehabilitation so they can return to their home community.
- Almost 400 new substance-use treatment and intervention beds have been opened throughout the province in the past three years as part of the Province’s commitment to open 500 new beds, which will all be open by March 31, 2017.
- Nearly $500 million to build more than 2,000 new supportive housing units, which provide integrated services to help people succeed in meeting complex challenges such as mental illnesses, substance use, and/or homelessness.
Dedicated mental health and substance use services for children and youth
Some of the provincial supports for children and youth include:
- 203 beds available in B.C. specifically for children and youth with mental health and substance use challenges:
- 78 acute and tertiary beds, and 103 community-based youth mental health and substance use beds – including 20 residential substance treatment beds.
- 22 beds funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development and provided through Full-time Attendance programs for youth offenders with addictions issues. These are community-based programs used as an alternative to custody for youth aged 12 to 17 years, who are involved in the justice system.
- New Treatment Beds – $12.9 million in new funding over three years. The Ministry of Health will work with local health authorities to establish up to 28 highly specialized treatment beds for youth who are struggling with severe substance-use disorders. The beds will provide the most highly specialized level of residential substance-use treatment for up to 84 young people aged 17 years and under each year.
- The Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre supports communities in caring for and treating troubled youth aged 12 to 17 years who have significant psychiatric and behavioural difficulties.
- Foundry is in the process of launching five integrated youth service centres in Abbotsford, Campbell River, Kelowna, North Shore and Prince George. An additional $8.4 million ($2.8 million over three years) will support up to five additional centres in locations yet to be determined. This will bring the total to up to 11 centres, including the existing Granville Youth Health Centre.
- Each centre will provide a one-stop shop for services that support the health and well-being of 1,200 to 2,500 youth and young adults each year, providing primary care and social services, as well as early intervention and specialized mental-health and substance-use services. For more information on Foundry, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2017HLTH0026-000282
- A 10-bed Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Stabilization Unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital will open in 2017 to provide short-stay assessment and crisis stabilization for children and youth who require urgent access to psychiatric care.
- The reopening of the renamed Ashnola at The Crossing in spring 2017 will offer a 22-bed program to provide intensive residential substance-use treatment for youth and young adults aged 17 to 24 years.
- As part of the $25-million action plan to reduce barriers and service gaps for people with severe substance use and or mental illness, Renfrew House opened in November 2014. The six-bed youth group home in Vancouver offers housing, social supports and clinical care where youth can stabilize their lives and receive the care they need, with $1.5 million in annual government support.
- The Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative has health-care providers and other community members working together as part of 64 local action teams in all health regions to improve care and increase access to services and supports for children, youth and families struggling with mental health and substance use issues. As of March 31, 2016, the Ministry of Health, in partnership with Doctors of BC, has invested about $10.2 million in the collaborative since 2013.
- More than 90 walk-in mental health intake clinics offer a more-efficient intake process for initial assessment of children and youths’ service needs. http://ow.ly/OU56307PryP
- Telehealth videoconferencing, which has been implemented in several B.C. communities to connect children and youth to psychiatrists in Vancouver, helps to reduce anxiety and costs for families who might otherwise have to travel long distances to appointments or wait for a psychiatrist to visit their community. www.phsa.ca/health-professionals/professional-resources/telehealth/what-is-telehealth
- FamilySmart (previously the F.O.R.C.E Society for Kids’ Mental Health) provides families and professionals with information, tools and tips for helping children with mental health challenges. Budget 2017 provides $1 million to expand support and services to families in more communities, including New Westminster, Burnaby, Smithers, Sooke and the Westshore on Vancouver Island. www.familysmart.ca
- The Canadian Mental Health Association’s Confident Parents, Thriving Kids program will receive $2.75 million in 2016-17 and additional funding of $5.5 million in Budget 2017. The program helps parents address behavioural issues in their children, aged three to 12 years. The funding will expand the program to support nearly 3,000 families each year – up from 800. www.cmha.bc.ca/programs-services/confident-parents-thriving-kids/
- An in-school prevention program called FRIENDS receives about $550,000 each year to teach children how to cope with worry and stress. More than 10,000 educators have been trained to deliver the FRIENDS program since 2004. http://ow.ly/VmZC307Pr5D
- The Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre at HOpe Centre provides an information and resources tool kit to child and youth mental health care teams provincewide and is available to every B.C. family online at: http://keltymentalhealth.ca/toolkits
- $4.5 million over three years from the Ministry of Advanced Education will support mental health projects for post-secondary students who are experiencing mental health issues.
Mental health and substance use: Addressing the opioid crisis in B.C.
- In addition to the 500 new treatment beds that will be open by March 31, 2017, a $10-million investment (2017-18) in substance use treatment interventions will support regional health authorities to improve access to substance-use treatment services by establishing 60 intensive residential treatment beds and 50 intensive outpatient treatment spaces. These services will provide followup care for up to 440 people for a year and will begin opening in the coming months, with all beds expected to be open by fall 2017.
- The Province committed $5 million to support the work of the Joint Task Force on Overdose Response in B.C. in 2016-17, and that commitment will continue with a further $5 million in 2017-18. This is in addition to $10 million in federal funding to support the Province with its response to the overwhelming effects of this public-health emergency.
- These investments will help fund:
- better mental and emotional support for people who work on the front lines;
- expanded rapid access to opioid substitution treatment;
- expanded and targeted law-enforcement strategies for fentanyl and carfentanil;
- supervised consumption services; and
- continued expansion of access to naloxone.
Including these investments, the Province has earmarked about $100 million for measures supporting the overdose crisis response since the public-health emergency was announced in April. This includes funding for additional emergency health services, establishing the BC Centre on Substance Use, operating hundreds of additional treatment beds, expanding access to life-saving naloxone and opioid substitution therapies such as Suboxone, enforcement actions under the Province’s Guns and Gangs Strategy, a public awareness campaign, and additional supports for the BC Coroners Service – including establishing a special investigations unit to examine illicit drug-related deaths.
To ensure the Province’s mental health programs work effectively together, a cabinet working group on mental health was initiated by Premier Christy Clark to develop a cross-government mental health and substance use strategy for British Columbia.
In recognition that a stronger cross-government approach is required across the system of care, a number of provincial ministries and service agencies will work closely together over the next year to better link services to meet the needs of patients and families. This will be supported by the introduction of specialized mental health community care programs established by health authorities throughout British Columbia. These specialized community services will provide a single point of contact, intake, assessment and service co-ordination in partnership with doctors, nurse practitioners and local community agencies.
This work includes a review of current mental-health programs and services with the goal of addressing key gaps in the current system and ensuring individuals and families can access support services early, before they find themselves in crisis.
These are just some of the many mental health and substance use supports for British Columbians.