Aboriginal people hugely over-represented in Vancouver youth seeking mental-health and addiction services

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      A business plan drafted by Providence Health Care provides a rough snapshot of the mental-health and addiction issues prevalent in downtown Vancouver’s homeless and at-risk youth.

      The document concerns the Inner City Youth program (ICY), which provides mental health, addiction, and housing services to teens and young adults aged 16 to 24.

      According to the business plan, 21 percent of ICY clients assessed between March 2007 and December 2013 were identified as aboriginal. That compares to just 2.3 percent of Vancouver’s total population, according to Statistics Canada data for 2011.

      Of ICY’s total client base, 84 percent were diagnosed with a mental illness. Of that group, 20 percent had a psychotic disorder, 48 percent had a mood disorder, and 34 percent had an anxiety disorder.

      Twenty-five percent of those with a mental illness were also found to struggle with a concurrent addiction issue.

      Of that group, 25 percent said alcohol was a problem, 36 percent were using marijuana, 18 percent cocaine, 15 percent amphetamine, and 10 percent opioids such as heroin.

      The total percentage of ICY’s client base identified as struggling with concurrent disorders of both a mental illness and addiction issue was 56 percent, or 276 people.

      The business plan is dated July 2014 and was drafted for the B.C. Ministry of Health as a requirement for $5 million in provincial funding. It was obtained by the Straight as part of a government response to a freedom of information request submitted last November.

      For more on the Inner City Youth program, read the Straight’s September 2014 story, “Vancouver service providers fail to get ahead of a mental-health crisis”.