Expanded suicide prevention programs support Indigenous youth, post-secondary students
VICTORIA – More young people in B.C. will have expanded access to life-saving interventions and mental health care through suicide prevention programs for First Nations and Métis youth, and post-secondary students.
The Province’s $2.3-million investment will provide essential supports for hundreds of young people who are at risk of increased mental health decline during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is vital that youth in our communities struggling with suicidal thoughts have access to help when and where they need it. Nobody should have to face mental health challenges alone,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Expanding the reach of suicide prevention programs for students and Indigenous youth gets more young people access to the tools, skills and community supports they need to cope in challenging times.”
To support the wellness of Indigenous youth, who are disproportionately impacted by suicide, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) will receive $800,000 in funding to deliver expanded suicide prevention and life promotion activities in First Nations communities and expand FNHA youth advisory committees to more regions. An additional $200,000 will support Métis Nation BC to promote youth wellness initiatives by developing Métis-specific online mental health support courses, as well as anti-stigma and awareness campaigns.
The remaining $1.3 million will support the Canadian Mental Health Association – BC Division (CMHA-BC) to expand and enhance suicide prevention programs available, including a series of grants administered to post-secondary institutions. Grants will support engaging students at risk, treatment, supports and referral programs.
Training for students, teachers and other members of the campus community will be a key strategy of the expanded programs, with the goal of reducing stigma and increasing awareness of supports available to help students who may be experiencing mental health decline. Opportunities to provide grants to other population groups underserved by existing suicide prevention resources are being assessed by CMHA-BC.
Launched in April 2020, post-secondary students in B.C. can access Here2Talk, a free provincewide mental health and counselling referral service that is available 24-7 via online chat and telephone. The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training is considering the application of new voluntary guidelines in the National Standard of Canada for Mental Health and Well-Being for Post-Secondary Students, released by the Mental Health Commission of Canada in October.
Improving access to mental health supports for B.C.’s young people is a commitment under A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s roadmap to creating a system of mental health and addictions care that works for everyone. The funding is a vital part of StrongerBC, B.C.’s Economic Recovery Plan to support people and jobs. Through StrongerBC, government is focused on making health care stronger, getting people back to work and supporting businesses and communities.