HSABC: These four things can improve mental health services for kids in B.C. | National Union of Public and General Employees

HSABC: These four things can improve mental health services for kids in B.C.

Hoping to make positive change and tell the story of from the perspective from the front-lines, HSABC/NUPGE compiled a number of their insights in a recent submission to the B.C. government's Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth.

logo of the Health Sciences Association of B.C. (HSABC)Vancouver (09 Sept. 2014) — Did you know that some health authority staff, like youth counsellors, are not allowed to text their patients? Is there any other way to communicate with a young person?

That's just one of the eye-opening facts revealed by health science professionals working in B.C.'s struggling mental health system. Hoping to make positive change and tell the story from the perspective of front line workers, the Health Sciences Association of B.C. (HSABC/NUPGE) compiled a number of their insights as a recent submission to the B.C. government's Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth.

HSABC/NUPGE provides B.C. government with front-line insights on how to improve the mental health system for children and youth 

The submission highlights four main ways to make our mental health system work better for vulnerable children and young people:

  1. The critical challenge in youth mental health is that there are gaps in service delivery. These gaps aren't just 'gaps': they are huge gaping holes lined up beside each other. In some cases, a small island of service may appear, but there are no bridges to the next complementary program or service — just more vast holes.
  2. The gaps in the system are not restricted to service. A critical gap is in communication. These gaps cover the whole range of communication: from children and youth identifying their issues, to families helplessly and desperately trying to support their child through their school or community services, to identifying those services, to mental health and addictions professionals communicating with each other, and to inconsistent transfer of, or sharing of, information.
  3. Youth mental health practice is inconsistent in British Columbia. Practitioners agree that best practices must be evidence-based, adaptable to communities' needs, understood by all practitioners and, most importantly, structurally supported. What is needed is a collaborative approach to maintaining an evidence-based model for mental health care in the province, and infrastructure to ensure the best practice protocols don't drift. 
  4. Scarce resources have been a significant factor in the challenges associated with providing effective child and youth mental health services across the province. But those working in the field believe that improved management of the system can result in more effective use of resources. As one worker describes: "The capacity is there. We just need the time, relationships and flexibility to get there."

You can read the whole submission here.

Mental health workers have a lot to offer the system, and they must be heard. Despite the frustration mental health service providers feel, they continue to work to deliver the services their patients and clients need, and to identify areas of the system that can be improved to improve the experiences and outcomes for children, youth, and their families.  

More information: 

No Health Without Mental Health 

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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