Slim offerings for at-risk youth

Youth workers can hardly afford to fall short on the slim offerings we have for our youth and their families.

Editor, The News:

Re: Time to reopen the doors of Riverview Hospital (The News, Aug. 28).

“Government has worked with health authorities to create facilities throughout the province with the appropriate supports, treatment and facilities.”

Interesting, but as a front line youth worker supporting Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows at-risk youth, I am, oh so unclear as to what, exactly, this means.

For adults? For youth? For children? For all of the above?

I’d like a list of these facilities ASAP, as my resource list is apparently lacking in what we have to offer.

And youth workers can hardly afford to fall short on the slim offerings we have for our youth and their families – within our community, and within B.C.

And when my clients turn 19, I will surely need these addresses and emails and program descriptions to pass along to them in their search for answers and peace.

Once youth in our community are able to accept supports – meaning housing and any addiction issues stabilized and a trusting, established relationship with a youth or outreach worker firmly in place, they must then be put on wait lists for outpatient mental health support – sometimes waiting months, sometimes not being accepted – often finding ways to help themselves while they languish in a system that never really sees them, or their families.

And concurrent disorders – mental health and addiction – I believe there is an outpatient program at B.C. Children’s Hospital, which I don’t see working for a whole lot of youth in our community (and many others), for very apparent reasons.

I don’t know who the government talks to about these things, but neither myself nor my colleagues (front line workers) have ever had the privilege of sharing even one of our days spent supporting this community’s extremely at-risk youth with anyone, from any level of government.

If it is really just the health authority they are looking to for the truths of society’s mental health day-to-day life, it should be clear, by now, that there are other places holding, at least in part, truths and pieces of  the answer.

Lori Hamilton

youth worker SD42 and

Iron Horse Youth Safe House

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