B.C. to expand mental health and substance use services in Vernon

Jun 16, 2022

According to a news release published by BC Gov News, the provincial government plans to expand and increase access to mental health and substance use services in Vernon. In addition, the news release states that through Interior Health, the province plans to add four new services and expand four existing ones. The Province will also recruit 19 full-time equivalent workers to provide substance use and mental health support services in Vernon and nearby communities.

“People throughout the North Okanagan will benefit from this major expansion of mental health and substance use services in Vernon,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Building mental health and substance use care in every B.C. community is our government’s commitment, because this system of care did not exist five years ago.”

Currently, the BC provincial government is recruiting staff for these expanded programs with the aim to create a comprehensive system of care throughout the province.

Furthermore, the news release states that young people (aged 12 to 24) with significant substance use concerns and concurrent disorders who face challenges accessing health or social services will have the support of a new interdisciplinary intensive case management team. Another new service will provide priority response to young people aged 12 to 24 who have recently had an opioid overdose or are at high risk for drug poisoning. Accordingly, they will also have access to available community services such as medication-assisted treatment through Youth Substance Use Connections.

Substance-use counselling services will also be available for young people and their families, while young adults aged 18 to 24 with complex substance use needs will have access to individual, group, and family substance use day treatment programs. “Within our region, it is estimated that more than 20% of people will meet the criteria for substance use disorder at some point in their lifetime,” said Susan Brown, president and CEO of Interior Health. “The services announced today will help build a well-connected, safe, and person-centred network of treatment and support for people with problematic substance use.”

Moreover, existing programs, such as early substance use intervention, early psychosis intervention, and eating disorders treatment services will be expanded to reach more people with mental health and substance use challenges. In addition, according to the news release, the nurse prescriber working at the downtown mental health and substance use centre in Vernon can now prescribe more options for medication-assisted treatment of opioid-use disorder.

The expansion and increased access to substance use services is part of the province’s response to the toxic drug crisis and A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s plan for building a comprehensive system of mental health and substance use care.

“Services being announced today will increase awareness, reduce stigma, help people access supports to get off and stay off drugs,” said Rachel Haskett, a peer support worker at Interior Health.