A new “one-stop shop” for youth seeking mental health, substance use and health care assistance should be a boon to struggling families, according to a local advocate.
On Wednesday, officials announced the opening later this year of Foundry Abbotsford, a centre that will bring a variety of health care and service needs for youth aged 12 to 24 under a single roof. The site, which will be hosted by Abbotsford Community Services and involve 14 different service providers, is one of five new centres opening in cities around the province this year. The Foundry centres are based on a prototype previously launched in Vancouver.
The site is expected to help between 1,200 and 2,500 youth and young adults each year, according to the Ministry of Health. A location has not yet been determined.
In 2015, it was estimated that more than two-thirds of children with mental disorders don’t receive help. Karen Copeland, who spoke to The News that year for an article on the challenges facing affected youth, told The News by email Wednesday that “my family, and other youth and families in our community will benefit greatly.”
Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong said the concept springs out of the idea that asking a teenager who needs help to visit multiple service providers in multiple locations “is perhaps asking too much.”
The centres will offer “wrap-around” services, said Steve Mathias Foundry BC executive director, who has been involved in the running of the Vancouver site. “It’s been done in other countries, and we’re the first province in Canada to do this.”
Copeland credited the designers for involving youth and families in the development of the centre. She said having more than a dozen service providers “will eliminate some of the challenges that come with referrals to other services and information sharing between those services.”
Locations in Kelowna, Prince George, Campbell River and North Vancouver will also be opening this year.
Funding comes from the province and the Graham Hoeckh Foundation, while the InnerChange Foundation and St. Paul’s Foundation will raise more money towards the project. The Michael Smith Foundation will be providing $800,000 for research and evaluation of the project. And ACS will be launching a fundraising campaign “to help ensure the centre will be able to meet the community’s needs.”