Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy speaking at Fraser Health’s announcement of expanded services at Roshni Clinic on Thursday, Feb. 7. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Surrey clinic for South Asians struggling with substance abuse expands hours

Roshni Clinic recently moved to a location across from Surrey Memorial Hospital

Roshni Clinic, which is aimed at supporting people in South Asian communities who are struggling with substance abuse, has expanded its hours.

The expansion was announced at the clinic’s new location at Surrey Substance Use Services at Quibble Creek, across from Surrey Memorial Hospital, on Thursday, Feb. 7. Roshni Clinic, according to a Fraser Health news release, “will now have the ability to connect people to first line treatment for opioid disorder using medications such as Suboxone and methadone.”

The expanded hours of operations include Mondays to Wednesdays from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Roshni Clinic, reads the release, was the first-of-its-kind in the province when it opened in 2017. The clinic uses “culturally-tailored, evidence-based response” to support patients’ needs while providing all services in Punjabi, Hindi and English.

RELATED: Substance use clinic for South Asians opens in Surrey, Sept. 28, 2017

Sharon Vipler, Fraser Health division lead for addiction medicine, said that working as a physician in the hospital and in the withdrawal management centre, she has seen “a shift” when she offers to refer South Asian clients to outpatient services.

“Historically, I saw patients politely decline the referral. Now, when I reassure them that there is a clinic that can provide services in their language, in a culturally safe environment, I have patients accepting that referral,” Vipler said.

“Substance use in the South Asian communities are highly stigmatized and those affected, often don’t know where to get help for themselves or for their loved ones. We know that several factors can impact people in the South Asian community from reaching out for help from mainstream health services.”

Some of the barriers preventing people from reaching out for help could be the language difference, gender inequity, stigma and service inaccessibility, Vipler said.

With the relocation of the clinic, according to a news release, Roshni Clinic “is now able to support an additional 75 to 100 active clients and reduce wait times for new referrals.” In total, there are more than 350 active clients at the clinic.

Judy Darcy, minister of mental health and addictions, said a few months ago she began meeting with people in the South Asian community in Surrey as part of an engagement process to improve mental health and addictions care in B.C.

“I heard very powerful and very moving stories that really opened my eyes. Stories about the very real barriers and also about the shame and stigma that can people in the South Asian community who are living with mental health and substance use issues for reaching out for help,” Darcy said.

“I learned how difficult it can be to ask for help because of family pressures, because of intergenerational issues because of deep-rooted stereotypes about mental illness and about addiction.

The clinic, which has also partnered with DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, will provide “one-on-one and group counselling, as well as psycho-education services.”

Neelam Sahota, CEO at DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, said Surrey’s population is “surging, and in particular, the immigrant population in Surrey has increased by 63.7 per cent over the last decade.”

RELATED: Tailored response in Alberta, B.C. for South Asians addicted to opioids, Jan. 10, 2018

Having not only language-specific services, Sahota said, is “crucial” to providing trust and support.

“More than just language alone is just having a cultural context of cultural norms,” said Sahota, adding that it allows the clients and health-care providers to break down barriers and have open dialogues “of things that sometimes are considered to be kept secretive.”

Asked if there has been an increase for service demand, Vipler said the wait list for Roshni Clinic “was a testament to that demand.”

“What we’ve been able to do with the increased hours and increased staffing in capacities is to bring that wait list down,” she said. We are continuing to see numbers of people being referred to our services, both referrals and self-referrals, through the acute care site, such as the hospital and detox centres.”

The Roshni Clinic, according to the release, is designed to support a person “at any point” in their recovery journey. People can access services by referring themselves or they can be referred by their family physician, detox/daytox centre, sobering centre, hospital or other community-based agencies. It also provides access to safe supplies and Take Home Naloxone for people who need them.

Roshni Clinic was previously located at the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre.



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

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Sharon Vipler, addictions medicine lead with Fraser Health, speaking at Fraser Health’s announcement of expanded services at Roshni Clinic on Thursday, Feb. 7. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Aman, who has been helped by Roshni Clinic, speaks of his experiences at Roshni Clinic during Fraser Health’s announcement of expanded services at the clinic on Thursday, Feb. 7. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

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