A new mental-health digital hub that will make it easier for thousands of British Columbians to find the services and supports closest to them is among various targeted initiatives totalling $140 million over three years under Budget 2017 to support those with mental-health and substance-use challenges. The new resources will focus on prevention and early intervention, housing, enhanced treatment and supports, and better integration and access to services.
“We’ve heard from individuals and families that navigating the mental-health system in B.C. can be frustrating, and that’s why government is taking important steps to better coordinate services and break down barriers to help people connect to the services they need more quickly,” said Minister of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing Rich Coleman. “Whether someone is looking for information about depression, trauma, addictions, anxiety or eating disorders, the new digital hub will make it easier for people to find mental-health and substance-use services near them.”
The digital hub is designed to enable people to find mental-health and substance-use information and services based on audience, topic and location, bringing together more than 6,000 services from over 450 providers throughout the province. The hub was created with input from service providers, experts, parents, caregivers and people who have experienced mental-health issues themselves. It will be supported by HealthLinkBC.
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 across B.C. These specialized community services will provide a single point of contact, intake, assessment and service coordination in partnership with physicians, nurse practitioners and local community agencies.
Supporting this work, the Province is targeting investments that will address key service gaps ― many of which affect children and youth ― that have been identified through extensive research under a Cabinet Working Group on Mental Health. This includes consultation with clients, families, service providers, researchers, and Aboriginal mental-health stakeholders, as well as recommendations from the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth and B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth.
“Research tells us that 70% of serious mental-health issues start before the age of 25,” said Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux. “We’re targeting investments toward prevention and early intervention for children and youth to help ensure that families have greater access to the help they need early ― before their issues become crises.”
To ensure better access to a range of services for youth and young adults, the Province has committed funding over the next three years for new additional supports to:
- Hire more than 120 mental-health practitioners to connect children, youth, and their families to mental-health and substance-use treatments and supports faster.
- Create up to 28 new highly specialized substance-use treatment beds for young people, which will provide the highest level of substance-use care available in the province.
- Support mental-health initiatives for post-secondary students.
- Expand services for youth through an online counselling service for mild to moderate mental-health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
- Expand the Foundry integrated youth centres to more communities, providing one-stop shops to support youth who are struggling with mild to moderate mental-health or substance-use challenges.
Additional support for students with mental-health needs is one aspect of the $100 million in annual funding for school districts under the Province’s interim agreement with the BC Teachers’ Federation. It’s anticipated that as much as 5-10% of this funding may be used to hire educational psychologists, school counsellors and other staff who can help students who are struggling.
Further mental-health and substance-use supports to be expanded under Budget 2017 over the next three years include:
- The capacity to support First Nations communities in dealing with suicide and other mental-health crises through an additional Aboriginal Suicide and Critical Incident Response Team.
- New supportive housing units for people with mental-health or substance-use issues or those who may be homeless or at risk of homelessness.
- Access to Aboriginal substance-use detox and treatment that incorporates traditional Indigenous approaches to healing.
In recognition that stable housing is critical to support the ongoing health of people with mental-health or substance-use concerns, government is investing $65 million to house adults with mental-health or substance-use issues. This funding is in addition to the $855 million committed to support the purchase, construction or renovation of affordable-housing rental units throughout the province. This new investment brings government’s total commitment to $920 million to create 5,280 housing units throughout the province.
“These targeted investments are the result of working across government and with key stakeholders to identify priority areas that will help better meet the needs of people struggling with mental-health and substance-use issues,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “Budget 2017 is enabling government to address gaps in the system, provide patients and families with better information and more streamlined ways to navigate the system, and to help integrate and coordinate services throughout the province.”
The agreement reached last week between the federal and provincial governments will also provide approximately $100 million more over the next three fiscal years for new or expanded mental-health services that support current and future endeavours to enhance our mental-health system. The federal government also committed $10 million to support the province’s response to the overdose crisis.
The Ministry of Health spends approximately $1.45 billion each year in B.C. to support individuals and families in need of mental-health or substance-use supports. The Ministry of Children and Family Development invested $94 million in child and youth mental-health in 2016-17, and Budget 2017 will provide the ministry with an additional $45 million over the next three years.
- Approximately one in five B.C. adults experiences mental illness in any given year.
- Each year about 800,000 adults in British Columbians receive some form of service for a mental-health or substance-use issue.
- The most common issues for adults are anxiety, depression and substance-use challenges.
- Nearly 84,000 children and youth aged four to 17 years suffer from significant mental-health issues in British Columbia.
- Currently, more than 27,000 children and youth receive community mental-health services annually ― over double the number who received services in 2003.
- Indigenous youth aged 10 to 19 years are four to five times more likely to die from suicide than non-Indigenous youth.
- It is estimated that mental illness in children, youth and adults in British Columbia costs $6.6 billion each year; indirect costs of lost productivity related to alcohol use alone are estimated at $1.1 billion.
To view the new mental-health digital hub, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/mentalhealth
Factsheet on mental-health services and supports in B.C.: https://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/factsheet-comprehensive-mental-health-services-in-bc
Three backgrounders follow.