Vancouver mayor's task force offers no silver bullet answer to mental illness crisis (St. Paul’s Hospital)

Nearly a year after Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson created a task force to try to get to the root causes of a growing mental illness crisis in the city, the special group has issued its first report.

But if the expectation was that the 60-member committee—made up of health officials, academics, police, provincial agencies and social service groups—would have a silver bullet answer to how to stop the growth of untreated mental illness, it won't be found in its initial findings.

The overall problem is not small. The task force report points out that about 20,400 Vancouver residents have serious mental health and addiction problems. At least 3,000 are estimated to be “at extremely high risk” and 300 are “in crisis.”

It also points out that between 2009 and 2013 there was a 43 per cent increase in emergency medical visits to St. Paul's and Vancouver General hospitals, and that about 2,000 “severely ill single room occupancy tenants are currently receiving inadequate or no care for mental health and addictions problems.”

Jeff Lee reports

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