As Squamish faces a pandemic and an opioid crisis, the province is providing some help for youth mental health supports.
B.C.’s Foundry program for mental health and addictions support is kicking about $800,000 to Squamish’s Sea to Sky Community Services, or SCSS. That money will be spent on creating a support centre that will be part of the upcoming Youth Hub in the Buckley Avenue affordable housing project.
On June 15, Mental Health Minister Judy Darcy announced on Monday that the town will be joining 19 other communities that will receive a boost in counselling and peer support for mental health and addiction issues.
In Squamish, Sea to Sky Community Services was named as a partner in the Foundry initiative. Foundry is a provincewide network of integrated health and social service centres providing assistance to young people, ages 12 to 24.
Darcy acknowledged that COVID-19 has put a strain on the mental health of youth.
Jaye Russell, executive director of SCSS, said it’s welcome news coming at a hard time.
“I’d like this to be certainly a piece of hope for folks who have been at home, you know, inundated with day-after-day information, and, sometimes, tough news around the health crisis,” said Russell.
“We know that behind every door and behind the scenes there are some families and there are some youth, individuals in our community, that are really struggling. And we know that there are opportunities like this Foundry centre that are specifically designed for folks that are struggling, and I really want this to be a piece of hope for youth.”
Russell said the $800,000 will help pay for close to half of the $1.9-million Youth Hub.
Since BC Housing chose only to fund the affordable housing units in the Buckley project, the society has been trying to find money for the Youth Hub, she said.
The cash injection from Foundry will partially help, but she said she’s hoping community members and government agencies will also step up and help with the costs.
SCSS will also receive cash for operational purposes from Foundry, but Russell said she couldn’t reveal the amount at the moment.
Since the Buckley project has yet to be built, Russell said support for youth will happen in online sessions meantime.
In the coming months, they will also be able to have in-person sessions at places like Centrepoint, Brennan Park and the library, she added.
The society will also work with partners like the Squamish Nation, the District of Squamish, School District 48 and Vancouver Coastal Health, among others, to determine the needs of locals and tailor future programming to fit their needs.
*Please note, this story has been updated with more information since it was first posted.