The provincial government is investing $5.75 million in new and existing programs aimed at supporting the 84,000 young people in B.C. struggling with mental health disorders.
Judy Darcy, MLA for New Westminster and minister for Mental Health and Addictions, announced the investment in Victoria on Friday – with a goal of supporting parents and caregivers of children aged three to 12 years old.
Developed by the Canadian Mental Health Association- BC Division and B.C. psychologists, the free program, which will open this fall, will work under the existing Confident Parents: Thriving Kids service, a free family-focused and phone-based coaching service. Previously, CMHA BC relied on year-end funding for Confident Parents: Thriving Kids which did not guarantee services to parents would be available year after year.
“When a parent reaches out for a help, when a young person speaks their truth and reaches out for a help, the last thing they need to hear is ‘take a number,’” Darcy said.
Darcy said that although 50 to 70 per cent of mental illnesses are prevalent in youth before the age of 18, only one in four children are able to receive mental health treatment.
Of the total investment, $3 million will go towards launching the new telephone coaching service and $2.7 million will go towards ensuring stable annual funding for the pre-existing Behaviour Program which has helped more than 3,200 families since 2015 and includes a series of six to 14 weekly telephone-coaching sessions using exercises and workbooks.
CEO of CMHA BC, Bev Gutray said the programs will help children grow from adolescence to thriving adults and will provide parents with the information and techniques to better assist their families.
“By assisting parents to support their children’s mental health early in life, we enhance their ability to thrive across the lifespan,” Gutray said.
Based in downtown Victoria, the program’s first phase already has coaches hired who are completing training to deliver online and telephone-based coaching. The CMHA BC is also working with Indigenous peoples and organizations to develop a culturally sensitive and appropriate model for the program.
The new program will include access to educational videos and weekly telephone coaching sessions that will be available starting April 29.