Young people in crisis will be better supported in hospital and when they return home through two new response teams that co-ordinate care for youth experiencing mental-health or substance-use crises in the Fraser Health region.
“Children and youth with mental-health and substance-use emergencies need immediate access to care and continued support when they leave the hospital to ensure that their needs are being met,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Making sure these young people have access to the supports they need, when they need them, is critical to their immediate and long-term health and well-being.”
The teams are making it easier for young patients and their families to stay connected to the long- and short-term supports they need in their community when they leave the emergency department. This can result in shorter hospital stays, a reduced likelihood of relapse and a return to the emergency department, and better supports for these youth to provide more comprehensive care throughout their healing journeys.
The child and youth mental health and substance use emergency response team supports patients 12 hours per day, seven days a week throughout the south Fraser Region. This team travels to hospitals upon request by clinical staff to provide children and youth, families and caregivers, and their health-care teams with assessments, consultations and support. Additional teams are expected to launch in Fraser North and Fraser East later this year.
“I am excited to be a part of the new emergency response team as it is an opportunity to provide support and connect children, youth and their families to mental-health services during times when they may feel at their most vulnerable, which is coming to the emergency department,” said Ryan Khungay, clinician, Fraser Health. “My hope in this role is to break down the current barriers to child and youth mental-health services by supporting children and families as they navigate our complex health system in a way that is child- and family-centred, culturally safe and trauma-informed.”
The Surrey Memorial Hospital child and youth mental health and substance use transition team is available 10 hours per day, seven days per week, and includes nurses, health-care providers and administrative staff. The team supports patients and their families throughout and after hospital discharge with assessments, individualized care, system navigation, referral co-ordination, client advocacy, crisis planning and medication monitoring.
“One of the most important parts of to the transition team program is that we strive to meet each youth where they are at,” said Teagan Chambers, outreach counsellor, Surrey Memorial Hospital transition team. “If a youth is refusing to engage in counselling, then what you do is you meet them at a coffee shop, you buy doughnuts and talk about hip hop. You spend time with them, honour their stories and go at their pace. When you do this, they feel seen, heard and understood.”
Young patients in crisis are connected with these teams by doctors and nurses in the emergency department.
Through Budget 2023, the Province has invested $236 million in new and expanded substance-use care for youth and young adults. Enhancing supports for young people living with mental-health and addiction challenges is an integral part of the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions’ plan to urgently expand access to mental-health and addictions care, including increasing early intervention and prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery services, supportive and complex-care housing, and more.
Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers –
“Young people in our community deserve the best support they can get to lead healthy and productive lives. The announcement of these services to support youth and their families in times of crisis is extremely welcome and good news. On behalf of our community members who will benefit from these new emergency response and transition teams, my sincerest gratitude goes out to the front-line workers for their dedication and care.”
Jinny Sims, MLA for Surrey-Panorama –
“We know that young people everywhere are facing added stress and anxiety due to the complex world we live in. The youth population is growing in Surrey, and these teams are providing the best possible care to those who go to hospital due to a mental-health or substance-use crisis. That means they not only save lives, but also support a more positive journey as they return home.”
Dr. Victoria Lee, president and CEO, Fraser Health –
“Fraser Health is home to 41% of the children and youth in our province. As such, we play a vital role in caring for young British Columbians confronted by a mental health or substance use crisis. Last year, more than 3,400 children and youth were admitted to our hospitals with a mental health or substance use concern. Our compassionate teams will work closely with young people and their families to provide supports quickly and early in their care journeys, that will address their urgent needs and assist them in getting back to doing the things they love with their friends, families and communities.”
Harp Dhillon, chair of the board of directors, Surrey Hospitals Foundation –
“In 2021, Surrey Memorial Hospital treated more than 1,000 children and youth for mental health. The Surrey Hospitals Foundation is dedicated to support Surrey Memorial Hospital and our community residents. We are grateful to our incredibly generous donors and community partners. Our Surrey Memorial Hospital child and youth mental-health and substance-use transition team assists vulnerable children, youth and young adults as well as their families, who desperately need this program”
- Successful discharge planning is crucial to effective recovery. The 30-day re-admission rate for mental illness in Canada was 12% in 2016 with more than half of these re-admissions occurring within 14 days, and the first few weeks after discharge are a high-risk period for suicide.
- The Fraser South emergency response team currently supports patients at the Delta Hospital, Langley Memorial Hospital, Peace Arch Hospital and Surrey Memorial Hospital.
- In 2022, government announced a historic expansion of youth addiction services in every health authority, including 33 new and expanded programs and 122 new health-care workers.
- The transition team is supported by the Surrey Hospitals Foundation, which raised more than $800,000 toward the program.