KELOWNA – Kelowna edged out Penticton and Kamloops to be one of only five communities in B.C. taking part in a new initiative that could change the way healthcare is delivered to local youth across the province.
The B.C. Integrated Youth Services Initiative was officially announced in Vancouver two weeks ago. It is designed to bring existing resources like primary care, mental health, substance abuse and social services together and comes with $600,000 for a new facility and $500,000 each year for operational costs.
Kelowna will be one of the first in the province to try it out.
“When you’re young and facing challenges associated with mental health or substance use, it can be challenging to find and get the help you need,” Health Minister Terry Lake said in a release. “We’ve seen success with this approach at the Granville Youth Health Centre, and our hope is that with the integrated and personal help that will be provided by additional centres, we’re empowering youth and families to get back on track.”
Canadian Mental Health Association director of services Mike Gawliuk calls the initiative a potential game changer for everyone between 12 and 24-years-old, especially those with addictions.
“Currently families have to call multiple numbers and often times get bounced from place to place,” he says. “Once the system is established, a young person or their family can walk in and a number of their needs can be met under one roof.”
Gawliuk says 25 communities applied to be part of the prototype first three years. Penticton, Kamloops and Kelowna made it past the first round and based on a business plan study, Kelowna was ultimately chosen to represent the Interior.
“Call it a proof of concept phase,” he says. “The vision is it will start with five (communities) and expand to others based on evidence."
CMHA is currently negotiating for a location for their facility, which Gawliuk says should be operational by the end of the year or early 2017.
“This is significant because currently the transition between youth and adulthood happens when they turn 19,” he says. “After that services completely change. This brings together providers on both sides.”
The four other communities chosen are Prince George, Abbotsford, North Shore and Campbell River.
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