Child & Youth Mental Health and Substance Use

Local governments are invited to participate in a local action team on Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use. This initiative is jointly funded by the Doctors of BC and the provincial government. Local action teams include stakeholders from health, policing, and local government who come together to discuss how they can foster system change in their community.

The Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative involves 1,800 individuals, from multiple organizations and ministries working together across BC to increase the number of children, youth, and their families receiving timely access to mental health services and supports. The Collaborative started in the Interior in June 2013 and since then has spread throughout the province, with Local Action Teams in 65 communities across the province. The leadership and participation of youth and parents has been identified as one of the biggest gems.

The two main goals of the initiative are:

  • Increase the number of children, youth and their families seeking and receiving timely access to integrated, mental health and substance use services and supports throughout the province.

  • Document examples and results of the involvement of children, youth and families in decisions related to program and system design, clinical practice and policy development, which manifest the ‘family-first, people-centered’ goals of Healthy Minds, Healthy People.

Work towards these goals is undertaken through the development of Local Action Teams (LATs) in each interested community.  Each LAT has representation from cross sectors (health, policing, municipal government, MCFD, education, aboriginal representation, substance use, etc.) that come together to discuss how they can foster system change in their community.  Each LAT is funded with a budget that covers the costs of physicians and specialists to come to the table, as well as other meeting expenses and project costs.  With the reach of the collaborative to date, LATs are now in place to support over 1.3 million children and youth in BC, along with their families.

In addition to building effective local infrastructure to partner on solving complex mental health and substance use problems experienced by children, youth and their families, experienced LATs and Working Groups have begun to see improvements, particularly in those communities that have local government involvement at the table.

The New Westminster Local Action Team has both a City Councilor and City Social Planner who attend the LAT regularly, and have been integral, key players in the decision making for service delivery, programming, and a mental health literacy plan for New Westminster. Currently work is underway to consider how child and youth mental health and substance use services could be integrated into the City’s asset map.

The Collaborative would be delighted to have every City represented on each of the 65 LAT’s, and are spreading the word to encourage cities to get involved.

If you would like to get involved or require more information, please contact:  Dr. Jennifer Mervyn, Practice Initiative Lead or call 604-314-8972.

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