More mental health supports to help vulnerable people, communities

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People living with severe mental health challenges in British Columbia will have increased access to 24/7 community-based supports and services through six new Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams throughout province.

“For many people, COVID-19 has made existing mental health struggles even worse. We’ve heard from vulnerable people and from communities that they need more specialized care for those living with really severe mental health challenges,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “These six new ACT teams will deliver the care people need to get better and rebuild their lives as well as help stabilize and resolve the challenging situations that some communities have seen in the past few months.”

The new teams will be located in:

  • Vancouver
  • Victoria
  • Maple Ridge
  • Kelowna
  • Nanaimo
  • Cowichan Valley/Duncan

They will provide flexible, individualized support – including community living, psychosocial supports and recovery – for adults with serious, complex and often persistent mental health challenges that make it difficult to manage day-to-day activities. Most ACT clients have not responded well to traditional outpatient mental health services.

“We are thrilled to welcome more supports to our vibrant community and know that the expertise and experience of a new ACT team will provide a connection to vital services that many people living with severe mental health challenges have been looking for,” said Bob D’Eith, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission. “To have a qualified team of professionals working together to support someone’s unique circumstances is the best way to get them on the right path, and that’s what this team will do in our community.”

The teams are mobile and deliver 24/7 services in the community, such as in client homes, work, parks and recreation locations, rather than in a traditional office setting. This makes these teams well suited to deliver services to all British Columbians, including those living in supportive housing or in encampments.

Up to 60 new staff will be hired to support six new teams.

ACT teams are the highest standard for delivering community-based mental health services for people with serious challenges. Existing teams have resulted in substantially improved outcomes for people with higher needs, as well as the communities where they live.

“In Nanaimo, we’ve been working hard to get more help for people living with serious mental health challenges, because the need is great,” said Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo. “People are still struggling with housing, social supports and substance use, so we’re bringing in a new team to help. Getting a new ACT team in our community means more people will get the right combination of mental health supports and services.”

Team services differ by community but can include: crisis assessment and intervention, housing supports, psychiatric/psychological treatment, medication management, supports for substance use disorder, work-related services, family support, healthy lifestyle choices and social/recreational activities. Services are delivered by a team of mental health practitioners from a variety of disciplines, including psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, substance-use specialists, peer support workers and vocational specialists who tailor the support to the unique needs of each client.

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