– with files from Patti Mertz
The Provincial government is investing in more beds, to help youth ages 12 to 24 recover from drug addiction.
The province admits that young people wanting help face long waitlists in order to get treatment.
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy says they will more than double the number of treatment beds for youth struggling with addictions in B.C.
“I’m incredibly proud that our government has invested in the single largest increase in youth treatment beds ever made in B.C., so more young people can get the care they need, when they need it, close to home.”
“For too long, young people and their families have faced long waits for treatment and a fragmented mental health and addictions system. Especially in these challenging times, young people shouldn’t have to wait for care. There’s much more to do, and we’re going to keep building a full continuum of mental health and addictions care for everyone in B.C.”
As a result of this investment, young people aged 12 to 24 and their families will benefit from 123 new beds for youth substance-use treatment and withdrawal-management beds, helping fill a long-standing gap in youth treatment services. The $36-million investment through 2022-23 will be focused on areas of greatest need. Locations are being determined in consultation with regional health authorities.
“You can’t take an opportunity that you aren’t given,” said Brody Van Velze. “Since the age of 14, I have struggled with substance abuse. During my addiction my life was filled with broken relationships, no respect for others or myself, and poor decisions. I have been clean for over four years now, and I owe my thanks to the Last Door treatment centre. Because I was given the opportunity to have a placement, I have found a new path in my life that grants me happiness and healthy relationships with others and myself. I am thankful for the programs I was able to experience and learn from during my time there. I am thrilled to hear that there will be more funding going towards beds for our treatment centres, as more youth will now have the opportunity that I was given four years ago.”
The first round of new beds is expected to be in place by the end of the fiscal year, with more to follow as health authorities find locations, plan clinical supports and complete implementation. The Province recently opened Traverse, a new 20-bed youth treatment centre in Chilliwack. There are now 124 withdrawal management and treatment and recovery beds for youth in the province.
These new youth beds are part of the full continuum of care government is building for young people and will be connected to culturally safe, youth-specific services in the community. That includes new services to improve the youth substance-use system, such as the expansion of Foundry youth centres, investments in mental health promotion and prevention in schools, and establishing integrated child and youth teams in school districts.
Expanding mental health and substance-use services for young people is an integral part of A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s roadmap for making mental health and addictions care better for people in British Columbia, which was developed in partnership with First Nations and other Indigenous partners. Implementing A Pathway to Hope is a shared priority with the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
Dr. Kathleen Ross, president, Doctors of B.C. –
“Today’s announcement impacts a population that has been uniquely affected by both COVID-19 and substance-use issues: our province’s youth. Access to treatment beds is a very important part of a larger system of care for our youth. The near doubling of treatment beds will help youth who have taken many courageous steps to seek help and cannot afford to face long waitlists or closed doors. This is a positive step supporting the recovery of youth with substance-use issues, and it is a part of a larger effort. Doctors of BC continues to work with the B.C. government to inform and implement the Pathway to Hope roadmap for mental health and substance-use care in B.C.”
Colin Tessier, executive director, Threshold Housing Society –
“This investment in new youth-focused treatment beds will help to change the life trajectory of many at-risk youth in British Columbia. This is an area of desperate need in our province and will help to fill a gap in the continuum of care that will lead to better outcomes for young people, their families and our communities. When a young person is ready to pursue treatment options, it can be a fleeting and fragile window of time whereby quick action and immediate access to services makes all the difference. These new beds will help to reduce long waitlists for treatment and allow many more youth to quickly reduce harm and vulnerability while beginning to access healing in their lives.”
J.D., current Threshold Society youth –
“Having access to youth-specific treatment and early recovery support would have been super beneficial. I feel that it would have made it easier for me having that extra layer of support while being in safe housing. Also, having that assurance that a relapse doesn’t mean that I’m facing homelessness again, but instead would receive additional support also would have helped. I also think that having a safe space where I felt comfortable to learn new coping skills would’ve helped so much. I found it so hard to find programming and treatment options that I felt comfortable doing. It was a huge struggle for me.”
- With this new investment, the Province has implemented 143 new youth beds since 2017, for a total of 247 youth beds throughout the province:
- 123 new youth beds
- 104 existing youth beds
- 20 youth beds in Chilliwack (the first youth beds in the Fraser Health region)
A Pathway to Hope: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/initiatives-plans-strategies/mental-health-and-addictions-strategy/bcmentalhealthroadmap_2019web-5.pdf
New 20-bed treatment centre in Chilliwack: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020MMHA0041-001473