Government expands support for Vancouver's most vulnerable youth

VANCOUVER – It can be hard to find help when you’re on the streets. Youth who are lost, alone and struggling with addictions or mental illness will have more support with the doubling of the Inner City Youth team in Vancouver, Health Minister Terry Lake announced today.

The Inner City Youth team is operated by Providence Health Care and delivered in the community by St. Paul’s Hospital care teams. The program helps homeless or nearly homeless youth (under 24) living with mental illnesses and/or addictions. The team will now have the capacity to support up to 240 youths.

Vulnerable youth are a key focus of the commitments we made in our recent provincial mental health action plan,” said Minister Lake. “By ensuring access to housing, health care and social supports, we can provide vulnerable youth with a foundation for recovery, stability and self-sufficiency.”

The Inner City Youth team connects with vulnerable youth through outreach work at sites in downtown Vancouver and St. Paul’s Hospital. The Inner City Youth team of psychiatrists, registered psychiatric nurses, a nurse practitioner, social workers, an occupational therapist and rehabilitation assistants find and help youths to get their lives back.

The expanded Inner City Youth team is a valuable addition to the existing range of government supports for vulnerable youth, including Agreements with Young Adults, employment services, therapeutic and addictions programs, and services dedicated to helping kids transitioning from foster care,” said Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux. “Together, these initiatives move young people away from high-risk activities and into positive life choices on the road to becoming successful and contributing adults.”

The team works to address each person’s entire situation, not just mental illness or substance use. Inner City Youth team members provide mental health and substance use treatment and follow up appointments, as well as group treatment with weekly goal setting, psychosocial rehab, recreation, and cognitive therapy.

One in five mental health and addiction related visits to St. Paul’s Hospital’s emergency department are by people under the age of 24,” said Dr. Steve Mathias, medical director, Inner City Youth team. “Expanding the Inner City Youth team will help us to reach more vulnerable youth before they present in emergency departments and connect them with the services they need to thrive in the community.”

The Ministry of Health is providing up to $20.25 million in 2014/15 for health authorities to invest in more local programs and supports to improve care for this high needs population, including $750,000 in funding to expand the Inner City Youth team’s capacity by 100%.

Not only are the teams expanding, but the funding will also allow for the creation of a storefront clinic in the downtown eastside, and a psychosocial rehabilitation team to help youth aged 16 to 24 develop skills to go back to school or start job training.

The Inner City Youth team, originally the Inner City Youth Mental Health Team, began in November 2007. It’s currently funded by Providence Health Care, Vancouver Coastal Health, St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation and lead donor, Silver Wheaton.

The Inner City Youth team is one of the strategies outlined by the Ministry of Health and Vancouver Coastal Health/Providence Health Care to address the complex needs of people living with severe addictions and/or mental illness.

Quick Facts:

The Inner City Youth team is currently operating in the following downtown Vancouver locations:

  • Covenant House Vancouver
  • St. Paul's Hospital
  • Imuoto
  • Pacific Coast apartments
  • St. Helen's Hotel
  • Marguerite Ford Apartments.

Learn More:

Improving Health Services for Individuals with Severe Addiction and Mental Illness plan:

Media Contacts:

Kristy Anderson
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)

Dave Lefebvre
Senior Communications Specialist
Providence Health Care
604 682-2344 ext.66987