VIHA boosts mental health tools but what about teens?

VIHA has started two new mental health teams, but we would like to see something similar in place for older teenagers.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority earlier this week announced funding for a pair of programs designed to help people with mental health challenges in our community. One program in particular will bring a mental health team to the streets of Port Alberni and Campbell River, to help people who have difficulty with structure or are hard to engage.

This is welcome news, particularly now. Homelessness is a big issue in our community, and whether we want to face it or sweep it under the carpet, many people who are hard to house are also hard to deal with—either because of mental health or substance abuse issues.

Oftentimes people with challenging mental health issues reject traditional methods of care, only to end up on the wrong side of someone’s patience. In many cases, they end up on the wrong side of the law.

Case in point: the debate over plans to expand the Port Alberni Shelter.

We are hopeful the Integrated Care Team fills in the gaps for mental health patients by streamlining communication between doctors, patients and applicable services.

If we had any criticism of these two pilot projects, it would be that they ignore our youth. We would like to see something similar in place for older teenagers—those who are no longer children, but not yet adults by legal definition.

And we hope this small cash infusion ($1.5 million for four teams in total) will not be cut off before the efficacy of the pilot project can be quantified.

Alberni Valley News

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