New projects for Vanderhoof mental health support services

Vanderhoof’s mental health support team is revisiting protocols to help overcome current service difficulties in town.

Local action team for mental health started its meeting on March 9 with a rhythm exercise.

Local action team for mental health started its meeting on March 9 with a rhythm exercise.

Vanderhoof’s mental health support team is revisiting protocols and communication tools to help overcome current service difficulties in town.

On March 9, fourteen regional and local service providers, school representatives, and members of the local action team for a province-wide Shared Care initiative discussed youth mental health support in Vanderhoof at W. L. McLeod Elementary.

For the first time, healers trained in traditional therapeutic methods such as Reiki, a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation, were also invited into the discussion to be part of the collaborative.

All attending service providers echoed that currently available resources in the community are insufficient to handle the amount of mental health support needed, leading to long wait-lists and temporary solutions.

A youth support worker recounted that for some families, it’s the youth who are the motivators at home, “cooking and making their parents go to work,” she said.

“They don’t know where to go for help, and lots of services require a guardian,” she explained, adding that when parents are suffering from their own mental health or substance use issues, a responsible guardian is not always available.

For others, it may be boredom after school, leading them to drug and alcohol abuse, she added.

“They want someone who show that they care,” she said.

For Todd Blattner, School District No. 91 counsellor, fourteen kids may be scheduled for appointments with him on one day, though there is generally only time to see seven or eight.

“Many come into school without breakfast” he said, “And with sugary and starchy food for lunch, that is not very nutritious and this tends to make behaviour and emotional issues worse.

“Sometimes all we can do is to try to make one moment better.”

Danny Scoular, family services program manager of Nechako Valley Community Services Society stated that a mental health clinician may spend half their day of work travelling and jumping through system’s hoops with paperwork before they are able to spend meaningful time with youth.

“We keep seeing kids, but we need to see and work with families as well and we’re not always able to do that,” Scoular said. “More and more, we’re just putting out fires on each crisis, but the same crises emerge later on if we don’t have the time and resources to do preventative work.”

W. L. McLeod teacher Patty Borek suggested that teachers can be advised on strategies that can be used in the classroom to help struggling students.

For Ken Young, it’s moving to see the students who benefited from the help — a student who attended school once a week in the beginning is now graduating, for example.

Other service providers said that some organizations in the region struggle with high turnover rates — funding is available but it’s difficult to attract or retain workers. This means that children may have a string of many counsellors and service providers — an inconsistency that is counterproductive to therapy.

Part of the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative, an initiative of the Shared Care Committee formed by Doctors of BC and B.C.’s Ministry of Health, the local action team will look to address communication barriers and service delivery gaps by focusing on three main projects in 2016: crisis response protocols, a community resource website, and client journey mapping, explained project lead Jeremy Blattner.  Each of these projects are small steps the collaborative is hoping will make it easier for families to access services.

The Journey mapping is a research project that will map the many steps an individual takes to get mental health support within the current health system.  It will “illustrate how arduous it is for someone to go through the system and what changes need to be made,” Scoular said.

The website will serve as a hub, listing available resources and information on how to access local support. The format of the site will be user-friendly and youth-oriented.

Updating crisis response protocols will address coordination of critical services and information sharing to support youth and families in need.

Those interested in joining the Mental Health collaborative or getting more information on the work being done are advised to contact Jeremy Blattner at


Just Posted

The Binche Fishing Derby at Stuart Lake is fast approaching. (Binche Fishing Derby Facebook photo)
Binche shares excitement for upcoming fishing derby

“It’s more than just fishing,” says Dave Birdi

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Local youth vaccination clinics underway

Pfizer vaccine will be used

Priya Sharma. (Submitted)
Column: Why ultimatums don’t work

By Priya Sharma It is a common misconception that people can choose… Continue reading

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

Most Read