The Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy was in Terrace on March 21 to make the announcement of the new Northwest mobile service with Northern Health’s Intensive Case Management team. The unit is set to hit the road next month. (Brittany Gervais photo)

Northwest mobile unit to help those at heart of mental health, addiction crisis

Province, Northern Health unveils new unit in Terrace to bridge gaps in services

People in the Northwest will soon have access to mental health and addiction support with the help of a new mobile service unit.

Terrace’s Intensive Case Management team is hitting the road this April in a retrofitted ambulance to offer mental health and substance use services. The Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy was in Terrace with Northern Health staff and leaders to make the announcement on March 21.

This unit includes referrals, take-home naloxone kits and training, basic wound care and assistance navigating resources for housing, finances, employment, health cards, dental and eye care. The service is being funded through Northern Health and through resources from the province.

Outside the Terrace Health Unit, two people walked up to the podium to share their own experiences with addiction, mental health, and homelessness.

READ MORE: B.C. opiod crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

“I didn’t think I’d be able to come here and say anything, but listening to these folks… I really hope they can help, because we’re losing too many of our friends. And we’re losing a lot of respect,” says John Dignard with emotion in his voice. “We don’t have much, but we have each other.”

Dignard first met Misty Louie in Terrace when they were both homeless and living in a tent. He says those facing homelessness experience the brunt of the impact of mental health and addiction issues, but must also overcome stigmas and barriers to services when they need help.

“We’ve seen a lot of things on the street because we used to live in a tent when we first met and it was hard, but we had each other and we had the street people,” says John Dignard. “A lot of people look at them as disgusting, as addicts, as bums… but if you needed the coat off of their back, they would give it to you.”

Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy was in Terrace to make the announcement and says meeting people where they’re at, with the services they need, can be a lifeline for people in the Northwest. The last thing people seeking help want to hear is that they have to wait in line, she says.

“We need to extend the reach of our services. Terrace is really underserved but the more remote communities are also underserved. That’s why this is such a brilliant idea,” says Darcy, adding this was an initiative led by Northern Health staff working on the ground within these communities.

The unit is also aimed at helping build the capacity of local primary and community care services to reduce pressure on local emergency departments and emergency services, while providing coordinated care, according to the press release.

Dignard says the respect shown by the Intensive Case Management Team in Terrace is extremely important when trying to reach marginalized populations.

“Everybody deserves a chance. And that’s all they want, is a chance to have someone listen to them and not sit there and give them a disgusted look and walk by them. They have a heart, they have a soul, and they are our friends.”

READ MORE: Number of homeless deaths more than doubled in B.C. as opioid crisis set in

A staggering 1,489 British Columbians died from a drug overdose last year — that’s roughly four people dying per day, according to the B.C. Coroner Service. Darcy says in January, six more people died within the Northern Health’s service area.

And she says thousands more may have died over the last couple years without the increased distribution of naloxone kits, overdose prevention and safe consumption services, and more access to assisted treatment and recovery programs in B.C.

“The numbers are horrifyingly high.”

READ MORE: B.C. opioid overdoses still killing four people a day, health officials say

Over the next two to three weeks, ICMT will meet and decide which communities they will be travelling to. Supports offered through the unit will be assessed over time and may change to reflect the needs of Northwest residents. Darcy says the province will be reaching out to other communities as the mobile unit hits the road to see if a similar model will work elsewhere.

Derek Flynn, a registered nurse who will be travelling in the unit, says he’s happy to see the mobile service team realized.

“It’s super important, I was born and raised here and it’s a gap that’s been here for many years. Our clients tend to fall through the gaps and aren’t getting the healthcare they not only need, but that they deserve. This is bringing those services to them.”

This unit is part of the Specialized Community Service Program for Mental Health and Addictions in the Northwest Health Service Delivery Area.


 


brittany@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

mental healthMental Health and Addictions Minister Judy DarcyNorthern Healthopioid crisisterrace

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Northern Health leaders and staff, the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy and Kitsumkalum matriarch Sharon Bryant pose in front of the new Terrace-based mobile service unit on March 21. (Brittany Gervais photo)

John Dignard and Misty Louie spoke about their own experiences dealing with homelessness and addictions in Terrace during the mobile unit announcement on March 21. (Brittany Gervais photo)

Comprised of a retrofitted ambulance, the mobile unit will travel to Northwest communities next month after Northern Health Intensive Case Management staff decide on where they will go. (Brittany Gervais photo)

Just Posted

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Screen shot of a cabin somewhere in the Bulkley Valley from rare 1955 film footage of the area.
VIDEO: More rare film footage of the Bulkley Valley in 1955

Can you help identify the locations and/or people in these videos

Shea Long roosts in the Shoot Out in the Telkwa Range. (SnoRiders, Houston/Shea Long photo)
Telkwa Range snowmobiling permit lottery opens

Application period is Oct. 20 to Nov. 20 for snowmobiliers and skiers to gain access to Starr Basin

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read