VIHA to launch new mental health teams in Alberni

Services for people living with severe mental illness in Port Alberni and Campbell River got a million dollar boost from the VIHA.

Services for people living with severe mental illness in Port Alberni and Campbell River got a million dollar boost from the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

VIHA announced that it has invested $1.5 million to establish two separate special health teams in each community to assist people with severe mental illnesses.

Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams will serve VIHA mental health clients who have difficulty with structure and are hard to engage. Team members will help clients out of office and in the street seven days a week.

Integrated Care Team (ICT) will support family physicians in assessing, intervening and/or supporting adults living with mental illnesses and/or substance use. Team members will provide the services to clients and physicians in physicians’ offices. Rapid access to support is available if needed.

The teams are expected to begin providing services to clients in spring 2013.

The project is underwritten through the province’s integrated primary and community care initiative. “This is new money and not something that was in my budget this year,” said VIHA Manager of Mental Health and substance use Janet James.

The initiatives have been in the works for more than six months.

“The province is committed to improving supports and services for people facing mental illnesses and/or substance disorders,” said Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid. “Establishing ACT and ICT teams in Campbell River and Port Alberni is a significant step forward in strengthening the network of services available to clients.”

Providing individuals living with mental health and addiction illnesses with safe, quality and timely access to care and services is a key priority for VIHA, said Don Hubbard, VIHA Board Chair.

“The addition of ACT and ICT teams in Campbell River and Port Alberni will make a significant difference in supporting these clients with the ultimate goal of improving their quality of life,” he said.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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