The provincial government is expanding services offered in schools to students dealing with mental health and substance use problems.
New multidisciplinary teams are coming to the Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Port Alberni, and Powell River school districts, as well as districts in the Fraser Valley, Okanagan and Southeastern BC.
“When a child or youth is struggling with their mental health and with substance use, we know how vital it is to provide them with the supports they need,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. “This is why our government is working together with integrated teams in seven more school districts across our province, to bring even more services to youth where they feel most comfortable: in schools, homes or community settings.”
The Integrated Child and Youth (ICY) teams are promised to connect students and families with counseling, as well as peer and cultural supports. Members of the teams might also include clinical counselors, youth substance-use clinicians, child and youth mental-health clinicians, Indigenous Elders or workers supporting Indigenous children and youth, as well as family and youth peer support.
The assessment and screening, consultation and therapeutic service is provided for students up to the age of 19.
According to the province, 75% of serious mental-health issues emerge before the age of 25, with 12.7% of children in BC (between four and 18 years) affected by mental-health disorders.
“Integrated Child and Youth teams make is easier for young people and their families to connect to the care they need, where and when they need it,” said Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jennifer Whiteside. “Integrated Child and Youth teams fill gaps and better coordinate mental health, wellness and substance-use care in schools and in the community, making it easier for families to access the help their child needs.”
Currently, five other school districts already have these teams and the province hopes to bring the number of school districts with ICY teams up to 20 by 2024, then be fully operational by 2025.
More information about the teams is available here.