Island Health is significantly expanding support for people suffering from mental illness and substance use issues, with more than $12.3 million in new services in the coming year.

“Mental illness affects people from all walks of life throughout the province,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “Through Island Health’s three-year mental health plan, they are providing expanded support, beds and enhanced care teams, ensuring that services wrap around the individual, taking them from the hospital, to the community and back to their families.”

Island Health will open 28 new substance use beds and 14 new tertiary mental health care beds in 2015. In addition, three new intensive case management teams and a new assertive community treatment team will support recovery for clients with serious mental illness and addictions with intensive supports in the community.

“It can be difficult for people with severe mental health or substance use issues to engage with the health system,” said Island Health CEO Dr. Brendan Carr. “These new services will improve how we reach out and provide the kind of care they need, where they need it.”

Island Health has made extensive investments in mental health and substance use services in the past 10 years, with the budget increasing every year – from $85.97 million in 2005/06 to $167.8 million in 2014/15.

New mental health and substance use services in 2015:

North Island

• Five community withdrawal management and detox beds, specifically designed to support people of Aboriginal descent with concurrent disorders in Mt. Waddington

• Six supportive recovery beds for women in the Comox Valley

• New intensive case management team to support clients with issues involving substance use and police involvement in the North Island, serving Port McNeill, Port Hardy, Alert Bay and surrounding area

• New intensive case management team to support clients with issues involving substance use and police involvement in the North Island, serving the Courtenay/Comox area

Central Island

• Two shelter beds for youth with concurrent mental health and substance use needs

• Six supportive recovery beds for women

• New Assertive Community Treatment team serving the Cowichan Valley

Planning is underway for seven additional beds to support clients with substance use challenges. Locations and type of beds will be determined in the coming months.

(Island Health)