Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions; Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development; and Rob Fleming, Minister of Education, have released the following statement in recognition of Mental Health Week.

“At any given time, one in five Canadians is dealing with mental-health issues, and if we go family by family, almost everyone experiences mental illness some time. Child and Youth Mental Health Day and Mental Health Week are an important time for all British Columbians to come together and spread awareness about how mental health affects us all, and give this important day and week the heartfelt recognition that it deserves.

“This year’s National Child and Youth Mental Health Day is about creating a safe space for children, youth and adults to have courageous conversations about mental health. For Mental Health Week, British Columbians and Canadians are being called on to speak out, to #GetLoud on social media and in the community about what mental health means to you, and the people you care about. Both awareness events are focused on helping combat the stigma around mental health, so that everyone feels comfortable asking for help.

“Our government recognizes that supporting people’s mental health is just as important as supporting their physical health, at every stage of life. Premier John Horgan created the new Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions – the first of its kind in Canada – so there is one person in cabinet, and one ministry in government, focused solely on how we can improve mental-health and addictions services and supports for all British Columbians.

“At any one time in B.C., approximately 84,000 children and youth, aged four to 17 years have a mental-health disorder. Only about one-third of them connect with the community-based supports and services they need. We know that early intervention and prevention are key to giving our children and youth the best start possible in life, so we must make sure young people feel comfortable asking for help. We must also make sure the mental-health services and supports they need are there, when and where they need them.

“To this end, we are working to create a seamless system of mental-health and addictions care, where people can ask once and get help fast. We are developing a comprehensive mental-health and addictions strategy across government, focused on early intervention and prevention, and treatment and recovery.

“The Ministry of Education is addressing early intervention and prevention in schools by adding more supports, so students can begin to discuss mental-health challenges with their teachers or counsellors as soon as these issues develop. The ministry is also holding an inaugural School Community Mental Health Conference, on May 10 and 11, 2018, in Richmond. This conference is designed to build the capacity of regional school-community teams to support students’ mental health. Information gathered at the conference will help inform the development of a school-based mental-health action plan that will be part of a comprehensive cross-government mental-health strategy that is focused on improving access, early intervention and prevention, and youth mental health.

“We are also expanding the network of Foundry Youth centres throughout the province. These centres are one-stop-shops that provide youth with health-care, mental-health and substance-use services, as well as social supports, under one roof, in a safe and judgment-free environment.

“We have a significant amount of work to do, to remove the stigma that keeps people from sharing the struggles they are facing, and from seeking the help they need and deserve.

“We are working to bring down the walls of silence, and raise awareness about the negative impact of stigma, but we cannot do it alone. British Columbians can all play a part in eliminating stigma through our actions and words, so #GetLoud and have caring conversations with your friends and loved ones.

“We are all affected by mental-health challenges in some way. It could be your voice, your empathy and your kindness that make all the difference in someone’s life, and help set the stage for their healing journey.”