Two teams launched to support ‘young people in crisis’ in Fraser Health

Programs will support youth in the emergency department and as they leave hospital and transition back home

B.C.’s Mental Health Minister announced two teams dedicated to supporting youth experiencing mental health or substance use challenges in the south Fraser region.

Jennifer Whiteside was at Surrey Memorial Hospital Friday (Nov. 24) to make the announcement.

“Children and youth with mental-health and substance-use emergencies need immediate access to care and continued support when they leave the hospital to ensure that their needs are being met,” Whiteside stated. “Making sure these young people have access to the supports they need, when they need them, is critical to their immediate and long-term health and well-being.”

The first team, the emergency response team will be available 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and will support patients from the Delta Hospital, Langley Memorial Hospital, Peace Arch Hospital, and Surrey Memorial Hospital.

“This team travels to hospitals upon request by clinical staff to provide children and youth, families and caregivers, and their health-care teams with assessments, consultations and support,” notes a release from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions Friday (Nov. 24).

Additional teams in Fraser north and east are expected to launch later this year, the ministry says.

Ryan Khungay, a clinician part of the emergency response team, stated the team will provide support and connect youth and their families to mental health services “during times when they may feel at their most vulnerable, which is coming to the emergency department.”

“My hope in this role is to break down the current barriers to child and youth mental-health services by supporting children and families as they navigate our complex health system in a way that is child- and family-centred, culturally safe and trauma-informed” Khungay stated.

The other team, the Surrey Memorial Hospital child and youth mental health and substance use transition team, will be available 10 hours per day, seven days a week.

The team, made up of nurses and youth work professionals, will work to ensure that young people with severe mental illnesses are connected with community services upon discharge from Surrey Memorial Hospital, said Mike Kenyon, Fraser Health’s director of clinical operations, mental health and substance use.

“The first seven days out of hospital are critical for youth,” he said. “Research has shown that there are benefits to having a transition team in reducing hospital visits, decreasing the length of stay in the Emergency Department and acute care units, decreasing psychiatric re-admissions, reducing self-harm and improving school reintegration. They come into emergency or into our inpatient units after experiencing a crisis and it’s really hard to independently navigate services when you are experiencing a crisis.

“We want to be able to walk alongside them, to play a role of navigation.”

READ MORE: In a first for B.C., mental health transition team in Surrey will help youth get back on feet

“One of the most important parts of to the transition team program is that we strive to meet each youth where they are at,” Teagan Chambers, outreach counsellor, Surrey Memorial Hospital transition team stated in a news release Friday (Nov. 24). “If a youth is refusing to engage in counselling, then what you do is you meet them at a coffee shop, you buy doughnuts and talk about hip hop. You spend time with them, honour their stories and go at their pace. When you do this, they feel seen, heard and understood.”

Health care workers in the emergency department will connect youth in crisis with the teams.

Surrey Hospitals Foundation raised more than $800,000 for the transition team, including a $400,000 donation from the RBC Foundation.


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