Vernon sets example for provincial mental health project | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon sets example for provincial mental health project

From left to right: Sgt. Robb Daly, Debbie Hamilton, and Stephanie Cadieux.
December 13, 2012 - 1:18 PM

Vernon will lead the province in a new mental health pilot project which aims to deliver the right resources as fast as possible to families affected by mental illness, substance abuse and domestic violence.

Vernon is one of two cities to host the pilot project, and project partners agree it seemed a promising community to launch the project in.

"Our community has a reputation for working well together (between organizations)," project manager Michele Blais told InfoTel News.

Debbie Hamilton, Director of the Vernon Women's Transition House, made the same point, noting positive working relationships with the RCMP, as well as other organizations.

The pilots will involve emergency departments, primary care, public health, community mental health and substance use services, child and youth services and other community organizations. 

Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux said, "There's lots of good work being done here (in Vernon) to build upon." She predicts the project achievements in Vernon will eventually spread across the province.

"We expect to add 20 communities this year and go province-wide by 2014."

The project seeks to enhance services already available to victims of mental illness, substance abuse and domestic violence. Under the program, front-line staff in a variety of health and community settings will be trained to better identify and handle situations where the safety of children might be at risk. Cadieux said the goal is to get the proper supports and services to those in need when they first reach out for assistance.

Hamilton says, "It's a better way to avoid duplication of services."

Cadieux said the provincial government invests $70 million into mental illness and domestic violence services and supports over 100 transition house programs.

"Our government continues to focus on a strong, effective and coordinated approach to protecting B.C. children and families," Cadieux said. "But there's a lot more to be done."

She said the pilots are part of the government's response to the tragic deaths of Kaitlynne, Max and Cordon, three BC children who were killed by their father in April, 2008 in Merritt. During their short lives, the children were deeply affected by domestic violence, untreated parental mental illness and addiction.

"The projects in Vernon and Richmond are an essential step in ensuring that effective procedures are in place, vital information is shared, and staff members receive training to assess risk factors and better address the safety needs of children," Cadieux said.

—Charlotte Helston

News from © iNFOnews, 2012

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