“Currently in BC, 84,000 young people between the ages of 4-17 years are living with a mental health issue of some kind. Our best guess is that one in three have access to professional support,” said Judy Darcy, B.C.’s first ever Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, during her visit to Campbell River on June 18.
Darcy said she was “heartened to see the wraparound care provided at Foundry Campbell River.”
Foundry Campbell River, as with all Foundry centres, supports young people ages 12-24 through a wide range of services there, including mental health and substance use counselling, primary care, sexual health care, employment support, youth and family conflict resolution, housing support, LGBTQ2S+ support, Elders in Residence, and life skills development. The John Howard Society of North Island operates Foundry Campbell River in partnership with nine other community organizations.
“Very often a young person struggling with mental health issues is also struggling with other issues such as employment, housing, gender identity, and sexual orientation,” Darcy said. “Foundry is a place where a young person is welcomed with no barriers and is supported and connected to a wide variety of services.”
While in Campbell River, Darcy was also the keynote speaker at the John Howard Society of North Island’s AGM. A John Howard Society press release said she spoke about the overdose crisis and her ministry’s goal to create more accessible mental health and addictions services with a central focus on child and youth mental health and working with Indigenous peoples.
“The overdose crisis is the province’s worst public health crisis in decades. Before the end of this day, four people in B.C. will die of poisoned drugs. Ninety percent die because they are using drugs alone,” said Minister Darcy. “One in 10 of those people are Indigenous. Indigenous peoples are dying of poisoned drugs at a rate three times the population at large, a legacy of our dark history of residential schools, racism, and discrimination. Every single one of those lives lost leaves behind loved ones. Entire communities are devastated.”
The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions is working with multiple partners on a wide range of actions focused on saving lives and connecting people to treatment and recovery, the John Howard Society release said. This work is being led by the ministry’s new Overdose Emergency Response Centre and Regional Response and Community Action Teams including one in Campbell River. These actions include opening more safe consumption and overdose prevention services, expanding access to drug-checking services and naloxone, increasing the number of healthcare professionals who can prescribe medication for opioid use disorder and launching a provincial awareness campaign to eliminate the stigma that keeps many people with substance use challenges from reaching out for help. The work of each Community Action Team is centred on targeting resources on the ground where they are needed most.