$120k pilot project to tackle Vancouver’s mental health crisis (Providence Health Care)

In Vancouver, there is no lack of help being offered to people who suffer from mental health and addiction problems. Whether it is city-financed housing referral and management programs, health outcome and advocacy initiatives operated by not-for-profits or even moral support from police who are often called to deal with people when they are off their medications, the safety net for the mentally ill and addicted is spread widely, if still thinly, across the city.

However, it isn’t efficient. The multiplicity of agencies, health care and social workers don’t necessarily work closely together to close gaps or coordinate services.

Now, in an effort to fix that, the City of Vancouver, the local health authority and a major foundation have agreed to fund a process they hope will begin to help solve Vancouver’s mental health and addictions crisis.

The $120,000 pilot project is the first effort arising from a multi-agency committee Mayor Gregor Robertson stood up last year after Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu went public with concerns about front line officers increasingly dealing with violent interactions with the mentally ill.

In a related effort to help combat that problem, the city is also giving a $75,000 grant to the Urban Native Youth Association to rehabilitate its city-owned premises. The grant will be used to leverage nearly $400,000 from other partners, including Providence Health Care, University of BC and the province, to refurbish and expand health and counselling services.

Jeff Lee reports

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