City Invests Nearly $1 Million in New Mental Health and Addictions Supports

February 22, 2017 | Safer Communities

 Council has approved $450,000 in new City investments for mental health and addictions – leveraging an additional $550,000 from partners -  aligned with recommendations from the Mayor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions’ Final Report. The new funding focuses on mental health support, harm reduction, drug prevention and treatment and includes:

  • $100,000 for mental health and addictions de-stigmatization programs, in collaboration with the People with Lived Experience Advisory Committee and Vancouver Coastal Health;
  • Up to $30,000 to build capacity of peers doing front-line work to prevent overdose deaths;
  • $100,000 to pilot and evaluate Aboriginal healing and wellness activities;
  • Up to $40,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association, Vancouver-Fraser branch for a mental health wellness initiative for grade 6 and 7 students in partnership with Vancouver School Board and the Vancouver Police Foundation; and
  • Up to $60,000 for the OUR PLACE Circle of the Child community-based response and prevention program.

“The City’s immediate, front-line investments in mental health and addictions support are a critical step to help break the cycle of addiction and provide better care,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The fentanyl overdose epidemic is intensifying Vancouver’s mental health crisis, leaving our most vulnerable residents with untreated mental illness and addictions desperately needing care, treatment and support. It’s essential that the BC and federal governments urgently invest in closing the gaps in our health and social safety nets by ensuring everyone in need has access to care - including treatment, substitution therapy and detox on demand for all those whose lives are at risk of overdose death.”

In addition to the immediate funding measures, Council also approved funding for:

  • $35,283 to the Portland Hotel Society to pilot a managed alcohol program on the Downtown Eastside;
  • $40,000 for the Bloom Group (in partnership with the City, Vancouver Coastal Health, BC Housing, and Pacific Blue Cross) to develop Phase 2 of a coordinated mental health and addictions system, including a shared dashboard;  and
  • $40,000 to McCreary Centre Society for implementing Phase 2 of the TRRUST Collective Impact.

The Task Force brought their first phase of recommendations to Council in 2014. Since then, 18 of the 23 priority actions have either been completed or are currently underway. 

Earlier this month, Council approved $220,000 to aid the City’s front-line harm reduction response to the fentanyl opioid crisis. Council approved $2.2 million - the first phase of funding targeted for the fentanyl opioid response – in January, which went towards:

  • Continued support for Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services’ mobile unit in the Downtown Eastside;
  • More naloxone and mental health and addictions training for City workers likely to encounter overdoses;
  • A new, volunteer-led Community Policing Centre in Strathcona that focuses on better integration between local residents, social supports and emergency services; and
  • More support for the 11 existing Community Policing Centres across Vancouver.