Businesses help fund youth mental health unit in Surrey, but more dollars needed

The unit, originally slated to open next September, will now open in 2017. The BC Nurses' Union says those in need can't wait that long.

Surrey Hospital & Outpatient Centre Foundation is pleased with huge donations toward a new mental health unit but still needs more funds.

SURREY — Businesses have stepped up to help fund a much-needed youth mental health unit.

The state-of-the-art, 10-bed Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Stabilization Unit (CAPSU) will be located in the old emergency department of Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Cloverdale Paint has donated $1 million and Coast Capital Savings has contributed another $300,000, but more funds are needed, said Jane Adams, CEO of Surrey Hospital & Outpatient Centre Foundation.

“We’ve seen a doubling in the last five years of children and youth, that’s those ages six to 17, showing up in emergencies with symptoms of acute mental illness…. It’s a national phenomena, but in our region it’s very pronounced.”

Adams said there is not a single “stabilization” bed in all of the Fraser Health Authority dedicated to young people.

“That’s where it’s designed for their needs, and staffed for their needs,” she explained. “There are only six beds in the entire province. What’s happening now is those that can be sent to the six beds at BC Children’s Hospital are being sent there and well cared for there. But we need to build capacity here in this region.”

Adams said Fraser Health put up $4.7 million in capital funding, and committed another $4 million in funding a year to operate and staff the unit, but another $2 million was required.

Adams praised the “progressive business community” for getting on board to help make the unit happen, but urged others to donate as another $500,000 is still needed.

“CAPSU will be B.C.’s largest and most progressive facility, tripling the province’s capacity to deal with children and adolescents in crisis…. (We) are calling on other organizations and individuals to make donations to help achieve it,” she said.

Victoria Keddis, a mother of a 20-year-old son who has suffered from a severe anxiety disorder his whole life, said the unit is desperately needed.

“No parent should have to leave a hospital, knowing there’s nothing in place for their child. The arrival of CAPSU will make an immense difference in the health outcome of these kids at a very critical time,” said Keddis in a release.

While the initial plan was to open in September 2016, the completion date has now been pushed to 2017, said Adams.

The BC Nurses’ Union says youth can’t wait until 2017 for the unit.

“Fraser Health has repeatedly stated the new teen mental health unit would be open in 2016…. Youth in crisis can’t wait until 2017 to receive care,” said BCNU president Gayle Duteil in a release. “They need mental health services and safe patient care today.”

She calls for Fraser Health to re-open the Adolescent Psych Unit in Abbotsford in the meantime.

The union says since the Abbotsford unit was closed in 2009, the number of children and youth hospitalized for mental health issues within the Fraser Health Authority has more than doubled.

To donate to the new unit in Surrey, visit Championsforcare.com/kids-mental-health.html.

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com

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