At-risk youth mental health centre opens in Vancouver (Inner City Youth Program, St. Paul's Hospital)

A multi-million-dollar centre for street youth who are homeless or at risk of homelessness opened Wednesday in a joint announcement between the Ministry of Health and St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation.

The Granville Youth Health Centre will house the Inner City Youth team run by St. Paul’s Hospital since 2006 to service vulnerable youth under 24 years old experiencing mental illness and addiction. The team will provide integrated services such as primary care, counselling, therapy, psychiatric assessment, group recreational activities and independent living skills. The new centre, located at 1260 Granville St., expects to service up to 1,200 clients by 2016 and facilitate 6,000 to 8,000 visits annually.

Alex Mann-Kuefler was one of the city’s estimated 700 street youth three years ago when he dropped out of college after suffering addiction and schizophrenia. He plunged into the “squalor” of the Downtown Eastside, the only place he could find housing. He recalls living there for six months on basic welfare. He was so preoccupied with meeting basic needs that he didn’t realize he was ill until an outreach team from St. Paul’s found him.

Jenny Peng reports

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