Coast Mountains School District 82 will be one of five school districts receiving funding for integrated child and youth teams to help provide better support for mental health and substance use issues. (Black Press photo)

Coast Mountains School District 82 will be one of five school districts receiving funding for integrated child and youth teams to help provide better support for mental health and substance use issues. (Black Press photo)

Integrated child and youth teams for mental health support coming to Coast Mountains School District 82

Coast Mountains is one of five B.C. school districts to have been included in this initiative so far

The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has announced that integrated child and youth teams will be implemented in Coast Mountains School District 82 for better, more timely mental health and substance use care for children and youth.

“For too long, families have had to struggle to get the services that they need for their children. They’ve often had to knock on one door, after another, after another, at a really critical time, when help is urgently needed and when everyday can matter,” Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Judy Darcy, said in an announcement Wednesday (Sept. 2). “With these child and youth teams, there is no ‘one size fits all.’ The composition of the teams will really vary according according to the needs of the particular community and school district.”

READ MORE: B.C. teen’s death points to gaps in youth mental-health supports: rep

The integrated child and youth (ICY) teams will have a multidisciplinary approach and use culturally-safe practices that reflect the needs and interests of the students and members of the school community. The teams will be designed to fit the needs of each individual school district, and can include school counsellors, youth workers, mental health clinicians, elders, Indigenous support workers, psychologists, and family and peer support workers, among others.

School districts will be able to review and determine which resources are already present within their schools, and which needs to be added or supplemented, and can hire the appropriate staff from there.

The goal of these teams is to provide quicker, more direct support to the different needs of different students, and to allow a connection between different workers so students don’t have to retell their issues or stories to multiple people, potentially causing more trauma with each retelling.

“It is estimated that seventy per cent of mental health and substance use issues have their onset in these really young, formative years,” Darcy said. “And that’s why early intervention is absolutely critical and this is all about early intervention and prevention.”

Coast Mountains will be joined by Richmond and Okanagan-Similkameen School Districts in receiving this funding. The three are joining two others who received funding for the ICY teams last year, Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows and Comox Valley.

The development and hiring of the teams for Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows and Comox Valley had to be put on hold for COVID-19 restrictions this year, so it will be a while before the teams are brought into Coast Mountains.

The B.C. Government also announced this morning that funding for school-based mental health wellness programs will be boosted by $2 million, following the $8.8-million investment over three years that was announced last September. This means that for the 2020 to 2021 school year, school districts and independent school authorities will receive a total of $3.75 million to promote mental wellness and provide additional supports for students, families and educators.

READ MORE: 60% of Canadian workers would take a pay cut for better mental health support: survey



clare.rayment@northernsentinel.com

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