If your child breaks a bone, or experiences a concussion, you know exactly what to do: Seek immediate medical care from the Emergency Department or GP. But what happens when that same child or teen experiences depression, anxiety or other mental health issue? The path to treatment can suddenly become much less clear.
The Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation aims to change that, showing youth that they are not alone.
The Foundation recently launched a $2.1-million fundraising campaign for Foundry Langley, a support centre that integrates mental health care, substance use services, primary and sexual health care, youth and family peer support and social services for youth aged 12 to 24, in one safe place.
“Seventy per cent of mental health problems in Canada begin during childhood or adolescence,” notes Heather Scott, executive director of the Langley Memorial Health Foundation, pointing to a recent survey in Fraser South. In it, nearly half of youth said despite feeling they needed help, they didn’t access mental health services because they didn’t know where to go.
While mental health services are available in BC, evidence-based treatments and counselling services are not easy to access. That means Langley youth are struggling to navigate the system, with waitlists and stigma preventing them from getting the services they need, when they need it. To demonstrate how challenging the complex, fragmented system can be for young people reaching out for help, the Foundation created RedTapeLoop.com.
“These numbers tell a sombre story, and behind every statistic is a young person with a bright future but who is struggling to navigate life’s challenges,” Scott reflects.
Recognizing prevention is the best medicine
At its heart, the Foundation’s initiative is about prevention: helping youth when challenges first arise and before desperation leads to risk-taking behaviour or self-harm, says Langley physician Dr. Geetha Gupta, who in working with the Encompass Support Services’ youth hub, has seen the impact that confidential guidance and counselling can have.
“A lot of these young people felt more comfortable coming to a physician at a youth hub than their family doctor. They connected more with us,” Dr. Gupta says. “If we reach these young people early and empower them with tools and support before their health problems become severe, they can often make more progress. But they just need that one person they can reach out to, that person to lean on.”
Significant early campaign donations, including $150,000 from Infinity Properties and $100,000 each from McDonald’s Sarocemas, Vesta Properties, the Beedie Foundation, the Nuraney family and from Caliber, mean the Foundation has reached 55 per cent of its $2.1-million fundraising goal.