Service providers who cater to clients with mental health and addiction issues had the chance to have their needs heard recently, and soon a plan will be formed to offer more support.
The Sechelt Indian Band (SIB), Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), Sunshine Coast Community Services Society, School District No. 46, the Salvation Army and the Arrowhead Clubhouse teamed up to apply for a Community Action Initiative (CAI) grant earlier this year.
They were awarded $7,000 and the team, led by the SIB, decided to use the money to put on three canoe journeys for service providers. During each of the journeys participants paddled together, shared their knowledge and talked about what’s needed to better support clients.
The effort was meant to build bonds and strengthen relationships while encouraging open, honest conversation about mental health and addiction issues.
“We really like the canoe model because it has proven to be a great way to engage with people and it seems that we could maybe use that to engage with our clients collectively because it turned out great with service providers,” said Eleonora Molnar with VCH. “They really appreciated getting out of the office and doing something collaboratively that was fun and nourishing,”
The issues brought up on the canoe journeys are currently being compiled into a needs assessment that will be used to seek more funding from CAI — up to $200,000 to be used to address mental health and addiction issues on the Coast.
“There’s a range of issues,” Molnar said. “There’s a lot of issues around FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), youth engagement, First Nations and trauma related to residential schools that has been unaddressed, and then there’s also the broader issues of trauma, like sexual, physical and emotional abuse. So there probably will be a focus on trauma informed care and we also want to engage with vulnerable populations like First Nations, youth and seniors who may struggle with mental health and addictions issues.”
The group plans to meet next Wednesday to talk about the core findings and prepare a proposal for more funding to implement some changes.
The submission deadline is Sept. 28 and the group will find out if they are awarded a project grant in December. If they are successful Molnar expects the project, titled Taking Care of Each Other/Taking Care of Ourselves to be launched in January.
The project was named by the SIB elders and in their shashishalhem language it is written as ?ayatawlh.