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B.C. to expand early psychosis intervention program for youth

The expansion is supported by $75 million over three years
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jennifer Whiteside joined Island Health representatives in announcing expansions to the early psychosis intervention program.

Young people who are experiencing early signs of psychosis will have more options in getting the support they need after the province announced more funding to expand the Early Psychosis Intervention program.

On Wednesday, June 19, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jennifer Whiteside, along with representatives of Island Health, gathered in Saanich to announce the funding and expansion of the program which now operates in 50 locations across the province.

"We know that 75 per cent of serious mental health issues emerge before the age of 25, and that is why early intervention is so critically important," said Whiteside. "We have not just an approach to dealing with crises as they arise, but intervening before crises get severe enough that they require acute interventions and providing early interventions to really wrap care around youth who may be experiencing episodes of psychosis."

The program, which is offered to those between the ages of 13 and 30, offers participants access to psychiatrists, nurses, social workers and case managers so young people can get support they need when they experience early symptoms of psychosis.

The provincial expansion is supported by $75 million over three years, allowing for more locations around B.C. and the hiring of up to 100 specialists to provide care and support.

On Vancouver Island, the program has been relocated to an expanded community space that is more accessible and can serve up to 300 clients, and they have hired new staff to increase capacity to follow clients for a longer period post-care.

"When I was hospitalized, I was introduced to the EPI team, and they helped me on my recovery journey. Recovery was difficult, but I continued to make progress through having a robust professional team, they helped me, as well as family and friends," said Cameron Webster, a peer support worker with the program who was first diagnosed with psychosis NOS in 2014.

John Braun, manager of the South Island EPI, said they don't want barriers and there are plenty of ways to get support through the program, including going through an Island Health formal referral process or they can calling Island Health directly, and there is currently no waitlist so supports can come to participants and fast as possible.

Bailey Seymour

About the Author: Bailey Seymour

After graduating from SAIT and stint with the Calgary Herald, I ended up at the Nanaimo News Bulletin/Ladysmith Chronicle in March 2023
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