Province adds mental health and addictions program to Merritt, Princeton

Help for troubled students

The provincial government is expanding its integrated child and youth teams to School District 58 Nicola-Similkameen, adding the mental-health and addiction service for children in Merritt and Princeton.

“The integrated child and youth teams in Princeton and Merritt will co-ordinate the mental-health, wellness and addictions resources a young person may need to ensure they have easier access to these crucial services, where and when they need it,” Jennifer Whiteside, minister of mental health and addictions, said in a news release.

The team will connect children and caregivers to services like peer and cultural supports and counselling.

Services will be offered by clinical counsellors connected to schools, youth substance-use and mental-health clinicians, First Nation elders or workers supporting Indigenous children and youth, as well as family and youth peer supports. Together, they will meet the youth where they feel most comfortable, whether in schools or other community settings.

The team supporting Princeton and Merritt join 12 other integrated child and youth team communities around the province.

“This program will help ensure the success for all learners in our community and support our innovative educational programs today and into the future,” SD58 board chair Gordon Swan said in the release.

The teams provide services to all children, youth up to age 19, and their families residing within the school district boundary, including those attending First Nations schools, independent schools, alternative school environments or those not enrolled in school.

Children and youth can connect with the teams through various access points, including community service providers, school staff, primary-care, mental-health and addictions services, Foundry centres and organizations that support First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.

The province has committed $55 million to implement the program in 20 school districts by 2024 to be operational by 2025.

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