Video: Arts Studio advocates protest cuts to mental-health services

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      Today (July 5) members and supporters of mental-health services gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery to protest program cuts.

      Meena Wong, a former federal NDP candidate for Vancouver South, told the Straight that provincial funding shortfalls have forced Vancouver Coastal Health to shut down the Art Studio, a mental-health program of which she has been a member since 2010.

      “It uses creative art therapy to help people with mental-health issues and addiction,” Wong said. “The studio helped me get back to drawing and painting again after 20 years of neglect.”

      According to Wong, the Art Studio’s 600 members were informed of the impending closure on June 14, and now feel they have nowhere to turn for similar services.

      The health-care cuts were revealed as part of the B.C. Liberal’s latest budget, which was tabled in the legislature on June 27.

      Unless something changes, the Arts Studio program is scheduled to end on August 7, 2013.

      In attendance today’s rally was Sue Hammell, NDP critic for mental health and addiction. She spoke in favour of the studio remaining open alongside Meena and other supporters.