Home > About Vancouver > All News > Mental Health Week 2015: Mayor’s Task Force continues progress on mental health and addictions

Mental Health Week 2015: Mayor’s Task Force continues progress on mental health and addictions

May 6 2015

Aaron Munro of RainCity Housing

The Mayor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions has made significant progress in implementing the 23 priority actions set-out by Council in September 2014 to improve the health and housing needs of residents living with mental health issues and addictions.

“Mental Health Week provides an important reminder that the Task Force is beginning to change the way mental health and addiction is addressed in Vancouver; standing together at one table is key to moving forward with an innovative and collaborative strategy,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “We know there is a lot of work to do and we will continue to commit the resources and energy it will take to create long-lasting impacts in the lives of people with mental illness and addictions.”

Progress of the Mayor's Task Force

Since the Phase 1 report, Caring for All: Priority Actions to Address Mental Health and Addictions was approved by Council in September, five dedicated working groups have formed to launch Phase 2, implementing the 23 priority actions.

The task force includes over 60 members, including:

  • Health care executives
  • Government representatives
  • Academics
  • Non-profit leaders
  • Advisors with lived experience

The task force will meet in June 2015 to discuss progress and next steps on the 23 priority actions.

Learn more about the task force

Initiatives to improve the health and housing needs of residents living with mental illness and addictions

New housing for people with mental illness and addictions

We recently celebrated the opening of Taylor Manor, a City-owned building that will provide 56 homes for people who are homeless with mental illness and addiction issues. It is operated by the Kettle Society and was made possible through contributions from BC Housing, Streetohome, Vancity, the Carraresi Foundation, and an anonymous donor.

Funding for two aboriginal wellness centres

Council recently approved funds to create two aboriginal wellness centres at Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA) and Lu’ma Native Housing Society (LNHS), focused on linking primary care and traditional forms of aboriginal healing and wellness.

Grants given to Family Services and the Bloom Group

Two grants for $40,000 were provided to the Family Services of Greater Vancouver and the Bloom Group, to develop a collective impact approach to improve supports and outcomes for youth transitioning out of foster care, and an integrated mental health and addictions system.

Vancouver Police Department further develops education for police officers

“The VPD is committed to the ongoing education of our officers, and the further development of communication skills that promote de-escalation when dealing with persons living with mental illness,” says incoming Chief Constable Adam Palmer. “Too often, a person suffering from a severe, untreated mental illness will encounter the justice system, instead of getting the medical support they need. The VPD will continue to champion better mental health services, the need to reduce stigma, and enhanced officer training to de-escalate incidents involving severe mental illness.”

Police partners with mental health professionals

The VPD has:

  • Assigned two police officers to the multi-disciplinary Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams
  • Partnered with mental health professionals from Vancouver Coastal Health
  • Created an Assertive Outreach Team (AOT) with four additional police officers

The AOT focuses on people requiring the greatest care and dedicated attention to assist these individuals, which has proven to be successful in achieving:

  • Continuity of treatment
  • Reduced incidence of violence and victimization
  • Fewer demands on the police and health systems

The VPD’s Crisis Intervention and De-escalation (CID) training has been recognized nationally in the TEMPO report as a model for police officer training. The TEMPO pilot is a partnership with the Mental Health Commission of Canada. In addition, the implementation of a new in-house mental health support program, known as the Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR), focuses on reducing stigma in the workplace regarding mental illness.

People with Lived Experience Advisory Group and Women's Advisory Group begin initiatives

As part of the Task Force, a People with Lived Experience Advisory Group has been developed and will begin work on a broader community engagement, and a Women’s Advisory Group will convene in June to promote an evidence-based gender lens on improving safety and well-being for women struggling with mental health and addictions issues.

Providence Health pilot project provides transitional housing

As conceptualized in the Phase 1 of Task Force’s work, Providence Health is now involved in a new partnership with Community Builders Foundation for a pilot project at The Metson on Hornby Street, which will provide twelve beds to transition homeless people who are no longer in need of hospital care back into the community and attached to permanent housing.

“The impact from The Metson rooms should be immediate, offering a new kind of supported space to stabilize for a couple of weeks to get well, instead of trying to heal after being discharged into homelessness,” says Dr. Bill MacEwan, head of psychiatry at St. Paul’s Hospital.

How we are developing solutions for better mental health and addiction services in Vancouver

Mayor's Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions meeting

Mayor's Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions

The mandate of the task force is to help the City identify priority actions to improve quality, accessibility, and choice within the system of care for people with serious mental health and addiction issues.