Stronger mental health, substance use services to help young people thrive

Press Release

Sept. 2, 2020

RICHMOND – Better, seamless mental health and substance use care for children and youth in three more school districts will support families through new integrated child and youth teams in Richmond, Coast Mountains and Okanagan-Similkameen.

“For too long, young people and their families have had to knock on one door after another to access the mental health and substance use services they need,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “These integrated child and youth teams will ensure help is available when and where it’s needed, so that children and youth are able to not just survive – but thrive.”

Integrated child and youth (ICY) teams work to fill gaps in the current system of mental health and substance use care. This model of care has been successful in other jurisdictions with positive results, including reduced wait times, better health outcomes and increased engagement at school.

What makes ICY teams stand apart is their integrated, multi-disciplinary approach and focus on culturally safe practices. A young person in need will receive services and supports tailored to their unique situation, delivered by a team of experts. Team members may include school counsellors, youth substance use workers, child and youth mental health clinicians from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Elders and Indigenous support workers, primary care clinicians and psychologists, as well as family and peer support workers. The team works in a continuous, interconnected way to deliver wraparound support for children, youth and their families.

“Investing in the health and well-being of our students today will help them grow and succeed now, and for the rest of their lives,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “This expansion of mental health and substance use support teams will increase support for vulnerable youth, so they have the care they need and deserve to have to reach their full potential.”

Teams are built to be flexible and inclusive to make sure anyone who is 18 or younger can access help as soon as they need it through a variety of ways, including self-referral, schools, primary care, community organizations and Foundry centres, First Nations and health authorities, along with the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

“We have seen the many ways in which young people can create positive changes for all of us, but when they are struggling with mental health and substance use challenges, it is crucial that we help them,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “We are here to provide a pathway to hope with culturally safe, tailored supports – in both larger centres and in rural areas like Okanagan-Similkameen and Coast Mountains – that help children and youth recover and succeed. These new ICY teams are part of our commitment to bringing better supports and services to families throughout the province.”

Richmond, Coast Mountains and Okanagan-Similkameen join Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows and the Comox Valley, bringing the total number of school districts with ICY teams to five since they were first introduced in July 2019. Funding for the teams is part of the Province’s $74-million investment over three years announced in Budget 2019 to support mental health initiatives for children and youth. It is estimated to take up to one year for programs to get up and running.

Implementing this program in three more school districts is another step forward in building the comprehensive system of mental health and addictions care that British Columbians deserve, as detailed in A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s roadmap for making mental health and addictions care better for people in British Columbia.

Implementing A Pathway to Hope is a shared priority with the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Learn More:

To read A Pathway to Hope, visit:

Two backgrounders follow.


Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions
250 213-7049


What people are saying about ICY teams

Vivian Eliopoulos, interim president and CEO, Vancouver Coastal Health —

“We need to continue to ensure that young people with mental health and substance challenges receive the right care customized to their needs so that we can improve health outcomes. The efforts to tailor and streamline access to care is a good step forward in supporting children, youth and their families early on.”

Ken Hamaguchi, chairperson, Richmond Board of Education —

“The Richmond School District appreciates the funding that is being provided by the Province to address the need for additional mental health support in our community. The implementation of an integrated child and youth (ICY) team will offer essential care and services to many children, youth and families in Richmond. Supporting our learners and our community is fundamental to who we are and what we are hoping to achieve.”

Roger Parsonage, executive director, clinical operations, Interior Health —

“We continue to work alongside partners to build a better and more co-ordinated mental health system for young people and their families. These new multidisciplinary teams will be available to help children and youth when and where they need it, providing access to wraparound, youth-centred care at what is often a critical time.”

Rob Zandee, board chair, Okanagan-Similkameen School District —

“SD #53 is appreciative to be named one of three new sites for an ICY team. We acknowledge the positive impact the ICY team will have on serving the mental health and substance use needs of the students and families in our communities. This is an area of priority for the district, and we look forward to the collaborative process that will build on our efforts.”

Chris Simms, health services administrator, Northern Health —

“This is very positive for the young people of Terrace and their families. By supporting strong linkages of Northern Health’s community and specialized services with schools, Ministry of Children and Family Development, primary care and community organizations including the Foundry, we are hopeful these teams will achieve their full potential and deliver continuous, collaborative wraparound supports to children, youth and their families.”

Shar McCrory, board chair, Coast Mountains School District —

“Coast Mountains School District 82 is grateful for the opportunity to expand our relationship with the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. Combined with existing supports for youth, such as physical health education curriculum, the Erase strategy and Foundry centres, ICY teams will add yet another layer of collaborative, interconnected and continuous wraparound services to vulnerable youth in a culturally sensitive manner. When individuals and organizations work collaboratively to improve life circumstances, it is better for the youth, the communities and society as a whole.”


Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions
250 213-7049


Facts about child and youth mental health, and substance use

  • In B.C., an estimated 84,000 children aged four to 17 years are experiencing mental health disorders at any time.
  • It is estimated that 70% of mental health and substance use problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence.
  • In September 2019, the Province invested $8.8 million over three years to help all 60 school districts, as well as independent schools, enhance existing mental health and wellness programs and launch new programs for students, families and educators.
  • Mental well-being and substance use literacy is included in the physical and health education curriculum from kindergarten through Grade 12.
  • The 2018 refreshed Erase (expect respect and a safe education) strategy has been expanded to focus on building safe and caring school communities by empowering students, families and educators with resources about complex issues facing students.
  • The Province is increasing access to the number of Foundry youth centres from 11 to 19 to help young people in more communities access these “one-stop shops” for health and wellness resources, services and supports.
  • More youth will soon have access to 123 new beds for substance use treatment and withdrawal management, doubling the number of treatment beds for young people struggling with addiction in B.C.


Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions
250 213-7049

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