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Compassion and connection at new mental health hub in Colwood

A new mental health and substance use hub will focus on a trauma-informed approach
Artist rendering of the new gathering space at the mental health and substance use hub in Colwood. (Goldstream News Gazette/Thomas Eley)

A new mental health and substance use facility will open at 681 Allendale Road Colwood later this year, offering West Shore residents a one-stop mental health shop.

"It's a touch point for the community or whatever to be seen and connected with immediately," said Mary Morrison, manager of Island Health Mental Health and Substance Use.

The centre will be 7,000 square feet and feature an integrated care model emphasizing a trauma-informed approach. It will offer same-day walk-or-call-in counselling and assessments five days a week. 

It will feature multipurpose rooms, clinical spaces, treatment rooms, a gathering space, and a staff lunch room. It will also feature 17 work stations, showers, a shower for staff, walkers, and bike storage. 

"This is hard work that our teams do, and we need to take care of the people doing the work as well," Morrison said.
Historically, mental health services were offered piecemeal, with patients jumping all around Greater Victoria to access the services that they require, said Kelly Reid, director of  Island Health Mental Health and Substance Use.

"The model here is, we've taken staff from all of those teams, we put them together into one integrated multidisciplinary team," Reid said.

Previously, the mental health and substance use system has led to an array of patients having their needs not met or having resources over-prescribed to them.

"What happens then is that resource doesn't get spent on somebody else. So resources come in when needed," said Mitzi Dean, B.C. Minister of State for Child Care.

When people come to the centre, they are put through the Single Session Walk-in Service (SWISS), which allows them to return to the centre in Colwood for care.

"It's a completely different person centred approach versus a service-centred approach," Reid said. 

The mental health hub was created alongside Indigenous communities around the West Shore.

"We're getting into a discussion about how we might co-develop things and how might they want to engage in a space like this or be part of a program like this," Morrison said. 

Services offered at the hub will benefit everyone on the West Shore, said Langford-Sooke MLA Ravi Parmar.

"When this place opens up this fall and becomes truly the hub we expect it to be. We hope that this will show other agencies what was possible here," Parmar said. 

About the Author: Thomas Eley

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