Report ‘confirms’ mental health care improves in British Columbia – Maple Ridge News
The provincial government launched a 10-year plan, A Pathway to Hope, to build a “comprehensive system” of mental health and addiction care for British Columbians in June 2019.
More than two years later, a new progress report from the province “confirms” that the people of British Columbia already have better access to mental health supports.
“We are working hard to make sure the people of British Columbia have access to integrated, integrated mental health and addiction care that can be found quickly and close to their homes,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Health mental health and Addictions, in a press release. “Step by step, we are transforming mental health and addiction care in British Columbia”
A Pathway to Hope began by focusing on a three-year plan to address four priority needs: supporting Indigenous-led solutions that improve the well-being of children, youth and young adults by saving lives through better drug addiction care and improving access to quality care in general.
To support Indigenous-led solutions, the province, the First Nations Health Council and Indigenous Services Canada have allocated $ 20.5 million for 41 new First Nations-led mental health and wellness initiatives. in 166 communities in British Columbia.
Meanwhile, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) has funded 147 healing initiatives that focus on a person’s connection to the land. The goal is to increase the types of treatment options available to First Nations by providing land, family and group based services.
“A network of traditional healers has supported communities by revitalizing traditional teachings and practices,” says FNHA. “The creation of family gatherings led to the development of a framework and the creation of a pilot earthly healing program to meet the needs of intergenerational trauma and well-being in communities. Cultural mentorship programs, men’s earth-based healing programs, and youth-focused programs have also been successfully implemented.
“Many gaps persist”
Despite these measures, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Vice-President Mariah Charleson calls the progress report “shocking.”
“It seems very common for the government to publish these documents showing all the work they have done,” she said. “But the reality is that there are still many, many loopholes that continue to exist throughout society.”
For Charleson, it is too early to say that progress has been made.
“We see people in our communities dying from drug overdoses,” she says. “We see our family members living homeless – living this way of life with mental health issues. We see it firsthand. So for me not enough has been done yet.
The BC Coroners Service reports that between January and June 2021, there were 1,011 deaths suspected of drug toxicity. This is the highest on record in the first six months of a calendar year and represents a 34% increase from the number of deaths recorded between January and June 2020.
Drug toxicity is now the leading cause of death in the province among people aged 19 to 39 and continues to claim “a disproportionate number of Indigenous lives,” according to the FNHA.
First Nations people accounted for almost 15% of toxic drug-related deaths in 2020, despite making up only 3.3% of British Columbia’s population.
“This should sound the alarm bells for leaders and policymakers,” Charleson said. “We have seen the government throwing billions of dollars on COVID-19. We need to see the same type of approach when it comes to the opioid crisis and the mental health crisis we are witnessing. “
The province’s progress report says it has stepped up its response to the poison drug crisis through A Pathway to Hope.
“In the past two years, British Columbia has expanded access to take-out naloxone kits to 350 new sites, more than doubled the number of overdose prevention and supervised consumption sites – with 1.37 million visits and 7,082 overdoses survived at these sites without any deaths – and introduced Canada’s first policy on prescribed safe supply, ”the Department of Health said.
FNHA says the province has been successful in supporting Indigenous-led solutions, but the need for better access to mental health and addiction services is “growing.”
“Mental health stressors have also been magnified throughout the COVID-19 epidemic and the increase in coping substance use has been exponential,” says FNHA. “Additionally, the revelation of 215 burial sites in Kamloops has sparked a wave of new trauma in Indigenous communities as the intergenerational effects of residential schools continue to affect Indigenous peoples in British Columbia.
FNHA says access to capital funding that supports First Nations design and creates local healing and wellness centers focused on culture and teachings would be “a tremendous asset.”
“Culture and ceremony should be central to the planning and implementation of all healing work, as communities have repeatedly identified the connection to traditional well-being as the most important aspect of their healing journey, ”explains the FNHA.
Increase in calls to the crisis line
Cindy McAnerin, executive assistant and advocate for the KUU-US Crisis Line Society in Port Alberni, says that while things are starting to improve with broader outreach and government funding, “big gaps” in services mental health problems continue to exist.
According to the progress report, progress has been made towards the establishment of Foundry Centers, which provide young people with access to mental health care, addiction services, primary care, social services and a peer support for youth and families, all in one place. Foundry centers are open in 11 communities, including Campbell River and Victoria, but have yet to reach the west coast of Vancouver Island.
“There’s nothing like it in Port Alberni,” says McAnerin. “We are certainly still seeing gaps in services and facilities for 0.125 people in the area.375”.
In June 2020, Foundry launched virtual services to support youth and their families through the Foundry BC app, which was co-created by youth and the province.
“This service fills an important gap and reaches young people who cannot access our centers from across British Columbia,” said Steve Mathias, CEO of Foundry. “This ensures that we realize our vision of reaching young people early, to help solve small problems before they get worse. “
McAnerin says the KUU-US crisis line receives about 1,000 to 1,2,000 calls each month.
Call volume nearly doubled after unnamed graves were found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in May, she says
Elizabeth Newcombe is the Executive Director of the Vancouver Island Crisis Society in Nanaimo and is proud of the work that has been done to improve the province’s crisis line network over the past two years.
“We have worked very hard to align all of our standards together,” says Newcombe. “We are improving service in the emergency line world. “
Following the emergence of COVID-19, the progress report identified that call volumes and demand for crisis lines have increased. Newcombe says Vancouver Island Crisis Society call volume alone increased 9% between April 2020 and March 2021.
“We were answering a lot of additional calls,” she says. “Ten percent of our call volume was related to COVID-19.”
To help meet increased demand, the Department of Health allocated one-time funding of $ 690,000 to provincial crisis lines in July 2020.
Going forward, the province recognizes that “more needs to be done to address Indigenous racism in mental health and addiction services” and says it will continue to invest in the creation of mental health and addiction services. addictions campaign that works for everyone in British Columbia.
“As A Pathway to Hope progresses, British Columbians with mental health and addiction issues and their families will see further improvements in access and quality of care as the system grows. will strengthen and evolve, ”the ministry said.