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British Columbia

B.C. expands mental-health, substance-use supports for more young people

More children, youth and families will benefit from seamless mental health and substance use services as BC expands Integrated Children and Youth (ICY) teams to seven additional school districts.

The new multidisciplinary teams will be added in Fraser-Cascade (Hope, Harrison, Agassiz), Kootenay-Columbia (Trail), Mission, Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Okanagan-Shuswap (Salmon Arm), Pacific Rim (Port Alberni), and Powell River school districts.

“Integrated child and youth teams make it easier for young people and their families to access the care they need, where and when they need it,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Secretary of State for Mental Health and Addiction. “Integrated child and youth teams are closing gaps and better coordinating mental health, wellness and drug use care in schools and in the community to help families access the support their child needs.”

The new teams will connect children, youth and families with counseling, peer and cultural support, and meet young people where they feel most comfortable: in schools, at home or in the community. Team members may include clinical counselors affiliated with schools, youth drug use clinicians, child and adolescent mental health clinicians, Indigenous elders or staff who support Indigenous children and youth, and family and youth peers. Members of these multidisciplinary teams work together to provide a range of supports to children up to age 19, including assessment and screening, counseling and therapeutic services.

“When a child or young person is struggling with their mental health and drug use, we know how important it is to give them the support they need,” said Mitzi Dean, Secretary of State for Children and Family Development. “That’s why our government is working with integrated teams in seven other school districts in our province to provide even more services to youth where they feel most comfortable: in schools, at home, or in the community.”

These seven School districts join Richmond, Coast Mountains (Terrace and Hazelton), Okanagan-Similkameen (Oliver area), Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows and the Comox Valley, bringing the number of ICY teams to 12. The province has pledged funds to implement Teams in 20 school districts by 2024, aiming to be fully operational by 2025.

“We have heard from students how important their mental health is to their academic success and their overall health and well-being,” said Rachna Singh, Minister for Education and Childcare. “The close collaboration of the integrated child and youth teams with the districts means that children, youth and families have better access to additional support during their child’s vulnerable years.”

Integrated Children and Youth Teams provide services to all children, youth, and families within a school district boundary, including those attending First Nations-operated schools, independent schools, French-language schools, alternative schools, or the non-school age. Children and young people can get in touch with ICY teams through various contact points, such as: B. early childhood services, school staff, primary care, mental health and drug use services, foundry centers and indigenous-led organizations.

Improving support for children and youth living with mental health and substance abuse issues is an integral part of A Pathway to Hope, BC’s roadmap to building a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse support system for British Columbians.


Pam Alexis, MLA for the Abbotsford Mission –

“It is important that young people get the help they need early on, through prevention, treatment and comprehensive services. It’s great to see the new ICY teams coming to our region. I know they will make a difference for children, youth and their families in our community.”

Bob D’Eith, MLA for Maple Ridge Mission –

“As a father of five and an advocate for more resources for schools, I welcome the ICY teams to our communities. Mental health and substance use pose a prevention challenge, and early intervention is essential to help our children and young people thrive.”

Elaine Yamamoto, Chair, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Board of Education –

“We are pleased that the ICY teams are operational in our school district and are providing our students with increased access to the mental health support they need. The teams complement our ongoing awareness and prevention efforts, prioritizing the health and well-being of our children and young people.”

Fast Facts:

  • About 75% of serious mental health problems occur before the age of 25.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected children and young people, especially those with pre-existing conditions.
  • In BC, almost 12.7% of children between the ages of four and 18 have a mental disorder, and 44.2% of them receive benefits.

Learn more:

A Pathway to Hope, BC Government’s Vision for Mental Health and Addiction Services: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021MMHA0049-001787

Integrated Child and Youth Teams: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/about-the-bc-government/mental-health-and-addictions-strategy/integrated-child-youth-teams

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