B.C.’s first urgent response centre for mental health and substance use launches in Surrey

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      As part of its new initiative to address rising mental-health issues and addiction cases in British Columbia, the provincial government is opening a mental-health and substance-use centre in Surrey.

      Located in the Charles Barham Pavilion on the Surrey Memorial Hospital campus, the new Surrey Mental Health and Substance Use Urgent Care Response Centre—the first of its kind in the province—will open its doors on July 24.

      B.C. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy stated in a news release that the centre will be a new resource “to quickly connect people with specialty services”.

      “When you or a loved one needs urgent support for a mental health or substance use challenge, the last thing you want to hear is to take a number,” Darcy said. “This centre will provide easy-to-access services where people ask for help once and get help fast, all in one welcoming place.”

      The new centre, which is part of B.C.’s recently launched initiative, A Pathway to Hope, will divert patients from emergency departments to a more therapeutic environment, the government said.

      In the centre, patients will work with staff to identify their needs and build on coping skills and resilience while creating treatment plans.

      It will also connect patients from surrounding communities—including Delta, Langley, and White Rock—to appropriate services.

      Fraser Health CEO Victoria Lee said the new centre is opening after community consultations.

      “We consulted with more than 20 different groups, including people with lived experience, to ensure the centre meets their unique needs,” Lee explained. “From how our waiting room is laid out to culturally sensitive healing ceremonies, their recommendations are woven throughout this centre,” Lee added.

      The services in the new centre will also be available during evenings and weekends. Language interpreting services will be available for patients too. Laundry and shower services and light snacks are also available on-site.

      The centre has special features including nature-inspired interior design, with private spaces for patients and their families while they wait to receive care, as well as a group room for healing circles, smudging ceremonies, and drumming.

      A total of 84 staff and physicians, including clinical counselors, social workers, substance-use services access team, psychiatrists, mental-health care workers, nurses, homeless outreach workers, and nurses will provide support for patients in the new centre.

      The centre has cost the provincial governmental $5 million and, once fully operational, its operating costs are estimated at $8.9 million annually.

      Fraser Health

      Mental health issues on the rise in B.C.

      The centre is opening at a time that mental health issue and substance abuse cases have been on the rise in B.C. in recent years.

      According to B.C. Adolescent Health Survey released last year, between 2013 and 2015, the number of students reporting depression in the province has increased by 50 percent, and the number of students reporting anxiety has jumped by 135 percent.

      In the survey, conducted by McCreary Centre Society, 17 percent of students in B.C. have reported that they had seriously considered suicide in the last year.

      On the other hand, last year more than 1,500 people in B.C. lost their lives as a result of substance overdose, with 87 percent between the ages of 19 and 59.

      It was the sixth year in a row that the province set a record for overdose death, according to a report by B.C. Coroners Service.

      B.C. government is hoping that its new 10-year plan will improve access to mental health and addiction care for British Columbians.

      Artist Trenton Pierre
      Fraser Health