A new mental-health digital hub that will make it easier for thousands of British Columbians to find the services and supports closest to them is among various targeted initiatives totalling $140 million over three years under Budget 2017 to support those with mental-health and substance-use challenges. The new resources will focus on prevention and early intervention, housing, enhanced treatment and supports, and better integration and access to services.

“We’ve heard from individuals and families that navigating the mental-health system in B.C. can be frustrating, and that’s why government is taking important steps to better coordinate services and break down barriers to help people connect to the services they need more quickly,” said Minister of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing Rich Coleman. “Whether someone is looking for information about depression, trauma, addictions, anxiety or eating disorders, the new digital hub will make it easier for people to find mental-health and substance-use services near them.”

The digital hub is designed to enable people to find mental-health and substance-use information and services based on audience, topic and location, bringing together more than 6,000 services from over 450 providers throughout the province. The hub was created with input from service providers, experts, parents, caregivers and people who have experienced mental-health issues themselves. It will be supported by HealthLinkBC.

In recognition that a stronger cross-government approach is required across the system of care, a number of provincial ministries and service agencies will work closely together over the next year to better link services to meet the needs of patients and families. This will be supported by the introduction of specialized mental-health community-care programs established by health authorities across B.C. These specialized community services will provide a single point of contact, intake, assessment and service coordination in partnership with physicians, nurse practitioners and local community agencies.

Supporting this work, the Province is targeting investments that will address key service gaps ― many  of which affect children and youth ― that have been identified through extensive research under a Cabinet Working Group on Mental Health. This includes consultation with clients, families, service providers, researchers, and Aboriginal mental-health stakeholders, as well as recommendations from the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth and B.C.’s  Representative for Children and Youth.

“Research tells us that 70% of serious mental-health issues start before the age of 25,” said Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux. “We’re targeting investments toward prevention and early intervention for children and youth to help ensure that families have greater access to the help they need early ― before their issues become crises.”

To ensure better access to a range of services for youth and young adults, the Province has committed funding over the next three years for new additional supports to:

  • Hire more than 120 mental-health practitioners to connect children, youth, and their families to mental-health and substance-use treatments and supports faster.
  • Create up to 28 new highly specialized substance-use treatment beds for young people, which will provide the highest level of substance-use care available in the province.
  • Support mental-health initiatives for post-secondary students.
  • Expand services for youth through an online counselling service for mild to moderate mental-health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
  • Expand the Foundry integrated youth centres to more communities, providing one-stop shops to support youth who are struggling with mild to moderate mental-health or substance-use challenges.

Additional support for students with mental-health needs is one aspect of the $100 million in annual funding for school districts under the Province’s interim agreement with the BC Teachers’ Federation. It’s anticipated that as much as 5-10% of this funding may be used to hire educational psychologists, school counsellors and other staff who can help students who are struggling.

Further mental-health and substance-use supports to be expanded under Budget 2017 over the next three years include:

  • The capacity to support First Nations communities in dealing with suicide and other mental-health crises through an additional Aboriginal Suicide and Critical Incident Response Team.
  • New supportive housing units for people with mental-health or substance-use issues or those who may be homeless or at risk of homelessness.
  • Access to Aboriginal substance-use detox and treatment that incorporates traditional Indigenous approaches to healing.

In recognition that stable housing is critical to support the ongoing health of people with mental-health or substance-use concerns, government is investing $65 million to house adults with mental-health or substance-use issues. This funding is in addition to the $855 million committed to support the purchase, construction or renovation of affordable-housing rental units throughout the province. This new investment brings government’s total commitment to $920 million to create 5,280 housing units throughout the province.

“These targeted investments are the result of working across government and with key stakeholders to identify priority areas that will help better meet the needs of people struggling with mental-health and substance-use issues,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “Budget 2017 is enabling government to address gaps in the system, provide patients and families with better information and more streamlined ways to navigate the system, and to help integrate and coordinate services throughout the province.”

The agreement reached last week between the federal and provincial governments will also provide approximately $100 million more over the next three fiscal years for new or expanded mental-health services that support current and future endeavours to enhance our mental-health system. The federal government also committed $10 million to support the province’s response to the overdose crisis.

The Ministry of Health spends approximately $1.45 billion each year in B.C. to support individuals and families in need of mental-health or substance-use supports. The Ministry of Children and Family Development invested $94 million in child and youth mental-health in 2016-17, and Budget 2017 will provide the ministry with an additional $45 million over the next three years.

Quick Facts:

  • Approximately one in five B.C. adults experiences mental illness in any given year.
  • Each year about 800,000 adults in British Columbians receive some form of service for a mental-health or substance-use issue.
  • The most common issues for adults are anxiety, depression and substance-use challenges.
  • Nearly 84,000 children and youth aged four to 17 years suffer from significant mental-health issues in British Columbia.
  • Currently, more than 27,000 children and youth receive community mental-health services annually ― over double the number who received services in 2003.
  • Indigenous youth aged 10 to 19 years are four to five times more likely to die from suicide than non-Indigenous youth.
  • It is estimated that mental illness in children, youth and adults in British Columbia costs $6.6 billion each year; indirect costs of lost productivity related to alcohol use alone are estimated at $1.1 billion.

Learn More:

To view the new mental-health digital hub, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/mentalhealth

Factsheet on mental-health services and supports in B.C.: https://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/factsheet-comprehensive-mental-health-services-in-bc

HealthLinkBC:  www.healthlinkbc.ca

Three backgrounders follow.

$140 million in new targeted mental-health supports

Budget 2017 is targeting supports and services that will have a positive effect on the mental health and wellness of all British Columbians. The new $140-million investment over three years will be used to develop, enhance and expand services for those who need them, including improving access to mental-health and substance-use services and supports, early interventions to help families address issues before they reach a crisis point, and hiring more community-based mental-health workers throughout the province.

Housing for People with Mental-Health and Substance-Use Challenges – $65 million

Government is investing $65 million to provide housing for people with mental-health or substance-use challenges. This funding is in addition to the $855 million committed to support the purchase, construction or renovation of affordable housing rental units throughout the province. With this new investment, government has committed a total of $920 million to support 5,280 housing units throughout the province.

New Child and Youth Mental-Health Workers – $45 million ($15 million per year)

The Ministry of Children and Family Development will use the new funding to help bolster community-based child and youth mental-health teams and expand the resources, mental-health counselling and treatment options available for children and youth. This includes hiring more than 120 additional mental-health workers to help connect up to 7,000 children and youth each year ― on top of the 27,000 who are currently being served ― to the services and supports they need. The new staff will include specialized clinical staff and community support and outreach workers who will help children and youth address their mental-health issues earlier in life, in order to prevent or reduce mental-health symptoms as they get older.

This funding will also increase access to early interventions by providing stable funding for two organizations:

  • FamilySmart (formerly the F.O.R.C.E. Society for Kids’ Mental Health) will receive $1 million in 2016-17 and another $1 million in 2017-18 to support its operations. This will help FamilySmart expand its Parent and Youth in Residence Program, developed in 2011, which offers peer support, education, mentorship and assistance to young people, families and caregivers who are navigating child and youth mental-health services in B.C. This funding will allow FamilySmart to expand and support families in more communities, including New Westminster, Burnaby, Smithers, Sooke and the Westshore communities on Vancouver Island: www.familysmart.ca/?r=true%2F.
  • The Canadian Mental Health Association’s Confident Parents, Thriving Kids program will receive $2.75 million starting in 2016-17 and an additional $5.5 million over the next two years. Confident Parents, Thriving Kids is an evidence-based early-intervention program for parents to help them learn valuable skills to cope with mild to moderate behavioural issues in their children, aged 3-12 years. The investment will allow the CMHA to expand the program to support nearly 3,000 families each year ― up from 800: www.cmha.bc.ca/programs-services/confident-parents-thriving-kids/.

New Treatment Beds – $12.9 million ($4.3 million per year)

The Ministry of Health will work with local health authorities to establish up to 28 highly specialized treatment beds for youth who are struggling with severe substance-use disorders. The beds will be distributed across the regional health authorities and will provide the most highly specialized level of residential substance-use treatment for up to 84 young people aged 17 years and under each year.

Expand the network of Foundry Youth Service Centres – $8.4 million ($2.8 million per year)

The Foundry is in the process of launching five integrated youth service centres in B.C. ― in Abbotsford, Campbell River, Kelowna, North Shore and Prince George. This additional new investment will support up to five additional centres, in locations still to be determined, for a total of up to 11 centres, including the existing Granville Youth Health Centre. Each centre will provide a one-stop shop for services that support the health and well-being of 1,200 to 2,500 youth and young adults each year, providing primary care and social services, as well as early intervention and specialized mental-health and substance-use services.

Supports for Post-Secondary Students – $4.5 million ($1.5 million per year)

The Ministry of Advanced Education will support mental-health initiatives for post-secondary students who are experiencing mental-health issues.

Supports for First Nations Communities – $1.5 million ($500,000 per year)

New funding through the First Nations Health Authority will support the establishment of an additional Aboriginal Suicide and Critical Incident Response Team that will augment the seven existing teams across the province. The location of the team is still to be determined; however, it is expected to service about 12 bands and provide support to a population of 8,000 people.

Additional funding is also being provided to the First Nations Health Authority to enhance land-based and culturally-safe substance-use treatment for First Nations communities. This will expand access to innovative treatment services that take place on the land, are rooted in ceremony, and include traditional land-based activities such as hunting and fishing. Program activities include culturally based assessment, detox, case management, treatment services with appropriate follow up/referrals, aftercare, and ongoing monitoring.

Online Counselling – $2.25 million ($750,000 per year)

An anticipated 3,000 youth per year will access a new evidence-based, online therapy service for mental-health concerns, such as mild to moderate depression or anxiety. A new web-resource ― Youth Bounce Back ― will be developed based on the success of the adult-oriented Bounce Back program, which provides cognitive behavioural therapy online, by video and via phone coaching.

Mental-health, substance-use supports already in progress

The $140 million in new and enhanced mental-health and substance-use services builds on the supports the Province has recently announced to support British Columbians who are struggling. The following projects are currently underway and services will soon be available to those who need them.

Joseph and Rosalie Segal Centre – $82 million

The new Joseph and Rosalie Segal Centre in Vancouver will consolidate mental-health programs and services delivered by Vancouver General Hospital under one roof. The centre is currently under construction and set to open in the fall of 2017.

Treatment Facility at Royal Columbian Hospital

A new 75-bed mental-health and substance-use facility is set to open at the redeveloped Royal Columbian Hospital site in 2019. The facility is part of the redevelopment of Royal Columbian Hospital, which will consist of three phases ― the first started in 2015 ― and will finish by 2019 at a total cost of $259 million.

Addiction Treatment Beds  – $10 million (2017-18)

A $10-million investment in addiction treatment beds will support regional health authorities to improve access to substance-use treatment services by establishing 60 short-term residential treatment beds and 50 intensive outpatient treatment spaces. These services, which will provide treatement and follow-up care for up to 440 people each year, will begin opening in the coming months, with all beds expected to be open by fall 2017.

Substance-Use Treatment Beds – $30 million (estimated annual operating costs)

Almost 400 new substance-use treatment beds have been opened across the province in the past three years as part of the Province’s commitment to open 500 new beds, which will all be open by March 31, 2017.

Addressing the Opioid Crisis in B.C.

The Province committed $5 million to support the work of the Joint Task Force on Overdose Response in B.C. in 2016-17 and that commitment will continue with a further $5 million in 2017-18. This is in addition to $10 million in federal funding to support the Province with its response to the overwhelming effects of this public-health emergency. These investments will help fund:

  • Better mental and emotional support for people who work on the front lines.
  • Expanded, rapid access to opioid substitution treatment.
  • Expanded and targeted law-enforcement strategies for fentanyl and carfentanil.
  • Supervised consumption services.
  • Continued expansion of access to naloxone.

The Province has earmarked approximately $100 million for measures supporting the overdose crisis response since the public-health emergency was announced in April. This includes funding for additional emergency health services, establishing the BC Centre on Substance Use, operating hundreds of additional treatment beds, expanding access to life-saving naloxone and opioid substitution therapies such as Suboxone, enforcement actions under the Province’s Guns and Gangs Strategy, a public awareness campaign, and additional supports for the BC Coroners Service, including establishing a special investigations unit to examine illicit drug-related deaths.

New Facilities for Children and Youth

Three new capital projects are set to open later this year, including:

  • A new 10-bed in-patient unit at the HOpe Centre will open in spring 2017 and provide specialized, intensive services for youth aged 13-18 living with mental-health and substance-use challenges.
  • A 10-bed Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Stabilization Unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital will open in 2017 to provide short-stay assessment and crisis stabilization for children and youth who require urgent access to psychiatric care.
  • The reopening of the renamed Ashnola at The Crossing in the coming weeks will offer a 22-bed program to provide intensive residential substance-use treatment for youth and young adults aged 17-24 years. Ashnola at The Crossing is funded through the Provincial Health Services Authority and will be operated by Pacific Community Resources Society. The program opens to youth in the spring of 2017.

New Mental-Health Facilities at Riverview Site

The Province is investing a total of approximately $175 million to construct two new buildings, a 105-bed mental-health facility to replace the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction, and a new facility to accommodate the 28-bed Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre and the 10-bed Provincial Assessment Centre.

Mental-health, substance-use supports available now

The B.C. government is committed to providing the best supports for people facing challenges associated with mental illness and problematic substance use, and has made it a priority to build a comprehensive system of these services across the province. Improved mental-health and substance-use services are one of the major areas of focus in government’s strategy to strengthen health care in B.C.

The Ministry of Health spends more than $1.45 billion per year in mental-health and substance-use services and the Ministry of Children and Family Development approximately $94 million a year to address child and youth mental-health and substance-use challenges in B.C.

Services vary depending on the type and severity of a patient’s problems, but in general, B.C.’s mental-health and substance-use system provides a spectrum of services including: mental-health promotion strategies; targeted prevention and risk/harm reduction strategies; community-based services; and inpatient care. The following outlines the many mental-health and substance-use investments, supports and services that are currently available in B.C.

  • Government has created more than 2,000 new supportive-housing units that provide integrated services to help people meet complex challenges, including mental illness and/or addictions. There are 30 projects in eight communities that are now open:
    • Vancouver – 13 new projects with approximately 1,400 units.
    • Nanaimo – 4 new projects with approximately 130 units.
    • Kelowna – 3 new projects with close to 130  units.
    • Surrey – 2 new projects with more than 100 units.
    • Victoria – 3 new projects with approximately 90 units.
    • Abbotsford – 2 new projects with more than 70 units.
    • Campbell River – 2 new projects with more than 50 units.
    • Maple Ridge – 1 new project with more than 45 units.
  • $50 million in annual funding since 2012/13 to support integrated primary and community-care programs within regional health authorities ― with one of the priority areas being mental-health and substance-use programs and services.
  • $38 million for the new HOpe Centre for Psychiatry and Education in North Vancouver provides integrated services for clients who require hospital care and outpatient services for mental-health challenges. The facility includes a 26-bed inpatient psychiatric unit open to patients.
  • $25 million for the Community Action Initiative that provides local grants to organizations to promote mental health and well-being for people in their communities.
  • $17 million to complete the Hillside Centre in Kamloops in 2006, a 47-bed facility located at Royal Inland Hospital. It provides mental-health services to adults and seniors with acute or significant mental-health challenges, with a focus on diagnosis, stabilization, rehabilitation and return to their home community.
  • $16.6 million to support the Bounce Back program since 2007. Bounce Back is a free, skills-building program for adults experiencing low mood or stress, with or without anxiety. The program offers two forms of help: self-help strategies and telephone coaching.
  • $11 million, over the next three years, for the BC Centre on Substance Use. The centre, the first of its kind in Canada, is focused on education and training, research and evaluation, and helps provide guidance on clinical care related to problematic substance use. The centre has a network of clinicians, educators and researchers from across the province that is aimed at strengthening the system of care in B.C. for those who are struggling with addiction.
  • $3 million to expand and support a provincial addiction medicine education and research training program for clinicians, making it the largest in North America.

Dedicated Mental-Health and Substance-Use Services for Children and Youth

Some of the provincial supports for children and youth include:

  • The Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre, which supports communities in caring for and treating troubled youth aged 12 to 17 years who have significant psychiatric and behavioural difficulties.
  • Renfrew House, a six-bed youth group home that opened in November 2014, offers housing, social supports and clinical care where youth can stabilize their lives and receive the care they need, with $1.5 million in annual government support.
  • More than 90 walk-in mental-health intake clinics offer a more efficient intake process for initial assessment of children and youths’ service needs: http://ow.ly/OU56307PryP.
  • There are 203 beds available in B.C. specifically for children and youth with mental-health or substance-use challenges, including:
    • 78 acute and tertiary beds, and 103 community-based youth mental-health and substance-use beds, including 20 residential substance-use treatment beds.
    • 22 beds funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development and provided through Full-Time Attendance Programs for youth offenders with addiction issues. FTAPs are community-based programs used as alternatives to custody for youth aged 12 to 17 years who are involved in the justice system.
  • Telehealth videoconferencing, which has been implemented in a number of B.C. communities in the North and the Interior, connects children and youth to psychiatrists in Vancouver and helps to reduce distress and costs for families who might otherwise have to travel long distances to appointments, or wait for a psychiatrist to visit their community: www.phsa.ca/health-professionals/professional-resources/telehealth/what-is-telehealth.
  • An online mental-health and substance-use service map is making it easier for families to find information and services for children and youth in their community. Since its launch, the map has helped more than 10,000 children, youth and families find the services they need: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/find-services-near-you/youth-mental-health-services.
  • FamilySmart (formerly the F.O.R.C.E Society for Kids’ Mental-health) provides families and professionals with information, tools, and tips for helping children with mental-health challenges, as well as direct support: www.familysmart.ca/?r=true%2F.
  • The Canadian Mental Health Association’s Confident Parents, Thriving Kids program helps parents address behavioural problems in kids aged three to 12: www.cmha.bc.ca/programs-services/confident-parents-thriving-kids/.
  • An in-school and online prevention program called FRIENDS teaches children and their parents how to cope with worry and stress. More than 10,000 teachers/educators have been trained to deliver the FRIENDS program since 2004: http://ow.ly/VmZC307Pr5D.
  • The Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre at HOpe Centre provides an information and resources tool kit to child and youth mental-health care teams throughout the province and is available online to every B.C. family: http://keltymentalhealth.ca/toolkits.
  • The Child and Youth Mental-Health and Substance-Use Collaborative has health-care providers and other community members working together as part of 64 local action teams in all health regions to improve care and increase access to services and supports for children, youth and families struggling with mental-health and substance-use challenges. As of March 31, 2016, the Ministry of Health, in partnership with Doctors of BC, has invested about $10.2 million in the collaborative since 2013.