Mayor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions releases first report

September 10, 2014 | Safer Communities

The Mayor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions released its first report today, outlining 23 priority actions to improve the health and housing needs of residents living with mental health issues and addictions in Vancouver.

“Untreated mental illness and addictions continues to be an issue that our City confronts, whether it’s through our social services, policing, or schools,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Through the work of the Task Force, the City is committed to mobilizing the support of stakeholders and senior levels of government to address the challenge of mental illness and addictions, and help our most vulnerable residents get the support they need.”

Caring for All: Priority Actions to Address Mental Health and Addictions includes recommendations to:

  • Convene an advisory group to create concepts for Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Centres in Vancouver;
  • Build academic partnerships with SFU and UBC to design a collaborative real-time data sharing model as part of a Collective Impact approach that involves people with lived experience, family members, health and community service providers;
  • Enhance training and outreach with the Vancouver Police Department, working with people with lived experience;
  • Increase community awareness of mental health and addiction by expanding the City Dialogues project to discuss the impact of poverty, and stigma of mental illness.

The Mayor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions, building on the success of the Four Pillars Coalition, was initiated in October 2013 to mobilize leaders from a broad range of sectors to address the ongoing crisis in Vancouver. The Task Force brings together 60 leaders from the City, Vancouver Coastal Health, BC Housing, the Vancouver Police Department, non-profit organizations and other related sectors to identify high priority, feasible actions.

The City currently spends an estimated $30 million a year due to mental illness and addictions in Vancouver through policing and emergency response, housing, and social services.

Since the first official meeting in December 2013, the Task Force has held 11 meetings and workshops, including special sessions on stigma, addictions, and Aboriginal and youth populations.
The Phase 1 Report that will be presented to City Council next week will highlight progress on a number of priority actions. Next steps will include implementing short-term actions, further scoping of actions, the assignment of key leaders, and implementation strategies – with a report back to City Council next summer.

The work of the Task Force aligns with the goals in other related City initiatives including:

  • Healthy City Strategy
  • Affordable Housing and Homelessness Strategy
  • Year of Reconciliation
  • Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan

To learn more about the Mayor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions: