Individuals living in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region with mental health and substance use region will benefit from Assertive Community Treatment teams and a crisis response team providing targeted supports.

“Mental health and substance use challenges affect the lives of individuals, families and communities,” said Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett. “This funding will increase access to meaningful, positive support and help take action and find innovative ways to address mental health, substance use and unhealed trauma.”

Funding for the ACT teams and the crisis response team is provided jointly, with Interior Health contributing $2 million and the Ministry of Health providing $2 million for a total of $4 million.

“Mental health challenges can affect anyone in our communities,” said Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes. “This funding will not only strengthen services in the Cariboo region but will enable those affected with mental illness, the support and improved social connections that they deserve.”

The ACT teams will be comprised of mental health and substance use professionals from various professional backgrounds, working together to provide treatment, rehabilitation and support to individuals who are suffering from severe substance use and mental health challenges.

Different from traditional programs, as the name states, the ACT team reaches out directly to clients 24 hours per day, seven-days-a-week, making client contact in the community as often as two to three times per day, based on individual needs.

“Interior Health is pleased to bring the ACT teams to our communities and clients in need, and will benefit from the experience of similar teams implemented in other health regions,” said Interior Health Board Chair Norman Embree.

In addition to the ACT teams, a crisis response team will be created to support clients in the Cariboo-Chilcotin geographical region. This team will consist of two nurses alternating to provide seven-day-a-week coverage and service and will also work closely with mental health and substance use and emergency department staff to support clients requiring intensive treatment and follow-up.

“We know that many individuals with serious and complex mental health and substance use illnesses use our emergency departments,” said Dave Harrhy, Mental Health and Substance Use Network Director. “One of the goals of these teams is to support clients to the point that they are better managing their symptoms and health in the community and are less likely to need to visit the emergency department.”

Interior Health is in the process of hiring staff for the ACT and crisis response teams, and hopes to see them in place by February with clinical programs starting in the late spring and early summer.