First for B.C. recovery program at Riverview helps addiction and mental illness

WITH the opening of a unique, new to B.C. rehabilitation and recovery program, individuals living with significant mental health and substance use challenges are being supported and empowered to take back their lives, Health Minister Terry Lake announced Wednesday.

The new rehabilitation and recovery program, established by the Provincial Health Services Authority, will be run by Coast Mental Health on the Riverview grounds. These facilities underwent minor maintenance upgrades to provide an interim location for the program, and will offer 40 beds in total — 26 relocated from the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction as well as 14 new beds.

“With today’s announcement, we are one step closer to achieving all of the action items outlined in our provincial mental health plan,” said Lake. “By providing community support through the rehabilitation and recovery program, we can help individuals with severe mental illness and substance use concerns on their journey to wellness through support, crisis intervention, treatment, and drug and alcohol recovery programs.”

The beds will be divided between the Brookside building, which will host a 25-bed facility for men and the Hillside building, which will accommodate 15 female clients.

“By providing this type of intensive programming in rehabilitation and recovery, we’re making great strides towards improving the mental and physical health of people with mental illness and substance use concerns,” said George Peary, board member, Provincial Health Services Authority. “It’s so important that we address their needs and help with care that sees them through the transition back to their community, homes and families.”

Coast Mental Health will provide ongoing support and assessment; crisis intervention; co-ordinated psychiatric and medical treatment; life and social skills building; drug and alcohol recovery programs and counselling; job skills training and education; peer support; advocacy; and co-ordination with other needed resources, like housing and social services.

“We are excited to vigorously pursue any opportunity that will improve the quality of life for people with severe mental illness and substance use challenges,” said Darrell Burnham, CEO, Coast Mental Health. “The new rehabilitation and recovery program provides a great chance to directly make a difference in the lives of these individuals.”

The goal of the program is to support people to regain their health, benefit from treatment, and return to community life with continued support for recovery. The program integrates mental health, substance use and primary care to provide a holistic approach, which builds on a client’s individual strengths.

“Providing this kind of comprehensive, well-rounded care allows individuals to manage their recovery, and helps them take those coping skills with them when they return to their homes and communities,” said Linda Reimer, MLA for Coquitlam-Port Moody.

The decision to locate the rehabilitation and recovery program on Riverview grounds was determined after BC Housing hosted a series of community open houses and extensive public consultations on the future of the site.

“The journey towards recovery can be a rocky one, but by introducing programs like rehabilitation and recovery, government is helping individuals take that all-important next step,” said Doug Horne, MLA for Coquitlam-Burke Mountain. “Together, with partners like Coast Mental Health, we’re making progress in helping people with mental illness and substance use concerns.”

The Ministry of Health, through funding provided to the Provincial Health Services Authority, has committed $3.5 million in additional funding to support rehabilitation and recovery beds for adults, as part of the $20.25 million provided in 2014-15 for health authorities to invest in more local programs and supports to improve care for the severely addicted and mentally ill population.

The Ministry of Health has made significant progress on the action items outlined in the 2013 report for individuals with severe addictions and mental illness.

Other completed projects include:

* construction of an acute behavioural stabilization unit at St. Paul’s Hospital;

* creation of an assertive outreach team;

* expansion of services to at-risk youth through the inner city youth team;

* opening of Renfrew House, a six-bed youth group home through the Inner City Youth program; and

* expansion of assertive community treatment teams to Kamloops and Kelowna, Abbotsford, Mission, Surrey and North Delta.