Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, issued the following statement today in response to the release of the Representative for Children and Youth’s report that investigated the suicide of a youth in 2015:
“No family should have to go through what Joshua’s family did. My heart aches for them. For too long, families like Joshua’s have been battling to get the mental-health care they so desperately need, trying to navigate a mental-health system that is fragmented and unco-ordinated. We need to wrap services around youth who are struggling like Joshua did, providing the ongoing, continuing supports that families need and deserve.
“We fully accept the recommendation in the representative’s report, which aligns with one of my mandate priorities assigned by the Premier, to create a mental health and addiction strategy to guide the transformation of B.C.’s mental-health-care system. This strategy is intended to include a focus on improving access, investing in early prevention, and child and youth mental health.
“While the representative acknowledges that it’s not possible to know whether better services would have prevented this tragedy, he does say a comprehensive system would have given this family a better chance. We absolutely agree that we need to collaborate across government and across service providers to create a system that supports families like Joshua’s with the full range of mental-health services they need.
“That is precisely the work that the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has embarked on. We are intently focused on developing a comprehensive strategy, working in close partnership with all the B.C. ministries that need to work together to break down silos, to create a seamless, co-ordinated system. The strategy will integrate the wisdom shared with us by people with first-hand experience of mental illness – families, health-care providers, community agencies, local governments and First Nations.
“A priority area in this work is youth services, in particular, early identification of those facing mental-health issues, early intervention and more proactive support for families. We want children who are struggling to get the support they need before their illness becomes more serious and to prevent the kind of heartache and pain that Joshua and his family endured throughout his life.
“I thank the representative for his report, which addressed this difficult and tragic story. I offer my heartfelt sympathies to Joshua’s family and friends, and to all those involved in his care, for this devastating loss.”