British Columbians who have family members living with serious mental illness, including schizophrenia, will benefit from expanded educational supports to help families thrive.
During World Schizophrenia Awareness Week, May 23-29, government is announcing more than $1 million to provide families throughout B.C., and particularly those in rural and underserved communities, with better access to educational programs and supports that help them understand and cope with their family member’s mental health challenges. The resources are being developed and led by the BC Schizophrenia Society (BCSS).
“For too long, families who have a loved one experiencing serious mental illness have struggled to access services they desperately need,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “That’s why we are expanding supports for people whose family member is experiencing a serious mental illness, including schizophrenia. I am proud to be partnering with the BC Schizophrenia Society to help families in every part of B.C. understand and cope with their family member’s mental health challenges.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the BCSS saw a nearly 40% increase in families asking for urgent support. BCSS helps people whose family member experiences serious mental illness to gain healthy coping strategies, better understand mental illness and connect with a supportive community. More than 900 new families connected with BCSS seeking support and information in the past year.
“We know families urgently need support when a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only increased this need,” said Faydra Aldridge, chief executive officer, BC Schizophrenia Society. “We are grateful to the Province for this investment that improves access to vital supports for families supporting people living with serious mental illness in B.C.”
With this investment, the Province has provided over $4 million to the BC Schizophrenia Society since 2016.
“I am thankful that these programs will now be available to families in all parts of the province,” said Michele K., who has a son diagnosed with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder. “People like me need to know that they aren’t the only one who has a sibling, parent or child living with mental illness. I feel much more able to help my family member after receiving support from the BC Schizophrenia Society – just knowing they are there, listening to us, understanding the challenges we face and advocating for us is a calming relief.”
British Columbia Schizophrenia Society: https://www.bcss.org/
A Pathway to Hope: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/BCMentalHealthRoadmap_2019.pdf
A backgrounder follows.