If you’re a confused kid and you need some help with your mental health, waiting weeks to see someone is too long.
Having a youth clinic that will have a rapid access psychiatry program, though, could help, so teens in their moment of crisis get support when they need it and before any wrong turns are made.
Teesha Sharma, a mental health worker, said space has already been donated by a local doctor for such a clinic, on 223rd Street and Selkirk Avenue, if operating funding is provided.
“We really need it,” Sharma said.
The Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative is leading the effort to open a clinic.
The collaborative, which now has a local action team in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, involves youth, parents, family doctors, specialists, three government ministries, RCMP, school counsellors, and aboriginal groups across B.C.
It is based on a model used worldwide as a method of rapid, continuous improvement in health care, and first started in the B.C. Interior in June 2013, says a government website.
“Right now in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, for a youth to see a psychiatrist takes eight months, which is kind of ridiculous,” said Sharma, who’s on the local team.
“All of the big guns are on this.”
Funding is being sought from Fraser Health for the youth clinic.
Meanwhile, another program, just beginning, will complement the youth clinic, if it opens.
A four-hour youth mentorship training program starts this Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the CEED Centre on 223rd Street. It’s jointly offered by the centre and Sharma’s Blue Door Youth Services.
Youth mentorship and the clinic will complement each other with referrals going both ways, Sharma explained.
“With 14 disenfranchised youth on our street and countless youth struggling with mental health issues, the need for mentors is at an all-time high,” Sharma said in a release.
Beginning with the first session this Saturday, adults can take a free, four-hour mentorship training session that will give the basics in being able to look out for troubled kids.
The session will teach how to identify mental health issues, and help kids with communication and community integration. Additional sessions could be added later.
Sharma herself was living on her own at age 16, in an apartment under a youth agreement with the ministry.
“The acquisition of life skills, self-esteem and direction, didn’t come easily, to say the least,” she said.
Sharma formed Blue Door Youth Services a few years ago in an attempt to create a long-term home for kids, after the announcement of the closing of the Iron Horse Youth Safe House.
She added that every teen mental health program in Maple Ridge has a waiting list.