Province invests over $56 million to mental heath and substance use support for young people

B.C. government photo.
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The province is investing over $56 million in new supports for children, youth and family mental health and substance use services as part of the 2021 budget.

“So families don’t lose critical time when mental health and addictions treatment help is urgently needed, we’re adding new teams so young people receive seamless service at school, at home and for life,” said Sheila Malcolmson, minister of mental health and addictions.

The integrated child and youth teams deliver wraparound supports for children, youth and their families by identifying early when a young person needs support and connecting them to specific mental health and substance use services, according to the province. 

This model of care is meant to reduce wait times, improve health outcomes and increase engagement at school.

The teams include peer support workers, Indigenous support workers, education counsellors and mental health and substance use clinicians. They will coordinate services and provide care for children, youth and families in the community, where it is safe and comfortable for the young person, the province said.

Fifteen communities will receive enhanced services that will add capacity on the ground. Over $40 million and approximately 350 new full time workers will help support B.C.’s young people and their families, to access services early on so they will be less likely to need services down the road.

“We know many young British Columbians are experiencing stress and anxiety as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, more than ever, we need to prioritize the health and well-being of our children and youth in B.C.,” said Jennifer Whiteside, minister of education. “This investment will improve access to vital services for students and families across the province and support early intervention and lifelong mental wellness.”

An additional investment of $16 million will also expand and enhance the early years mental health supports. This expansion will include hiring more than 60 new full time family support workers, behavioural consultants and infant mental health clinicians over the next three years to help meet children’s mental health and developmental needs.

“Children and youth need a more seamless care experience, particularly when they are dealing with anxiety, pain or trauma,” said Mitzi Dean, minister of children and family development. “Integrated services mean children and youth who need help won’t have to repeat their story and potentially relive trauma with multiple service providers — instead, they will have an individual care plan focused on their unique needs and a team behind them to help ensure they are supported to reach their full potential.”

This investment is part of the overall $97 million announced in Budget 2021 for child and youth mental health.

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