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Additional mental health supports come to Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district

Some more support is expected for Nanaimo-Ladysmith school districts.

Superintendent of Nanaimo-Ladysmith Public Schools Scott Saywell says the school district isn’t a stranger to the kind of work the new Integrated Child and Youth teams do.

He says they’re one of two districts to have a manager of mental health and addictions, and has one of the province’s first wellness centers inside school walls.

“We’ve been doing this work for a long time and the idea of wraparound service with all of the community supports talking to each other is not new to us, but this provides extra supports to us— which we welcome, of course.”

The Integrated Child and Youth teams are promised to help children or youth struggling with mental health or addiction problems.

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The Nanaimo-Ladysmith district is expected to receive four teams.

“They essentially include a clinical counselor and a peer support worker, and then they’re part of a larger integrated support team that would include members from the community. We have a manager of mental health and addictions,” says Saywell. “We’re I believe one of two school districts in the province that have such a position. So we’re well connected to our inter-agency, community sports, island health, child/youth mental health. We’re well connected already. So what this is providing is some more clinical supports to the system.”

The service is to be provided to students aged 19 or younger.

It will also help parents to understand how to maneuver through the support system.

“Part of the challenge right now is for parents to navigate that support system on their own,” states Saywell. “Particularly where there are lengthy wait lists or child and youth services and there is a growing need. So certainly the need far exceeds the capacity for support right now. We school districts are probably the best support systems because we know the children the best. They come to us every single day. So we’re the best people to help connect [students and parents] with these different support systems.”

These teams are also in Port Alberni, and Powell River school districts, as well as districts in the Fraser Valley, Okanagan, and Southeastern BC.

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.

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