SURREY — Simon Fraser University has established a new Chair in Technology Innovations for Youth Addition Recovery and Mental Health.
This chair position is supported by $1.25 million in funding from SFU, the John Volken Academy ($500,000), the City of Surrey ($500,000) and the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society ($250,000), and will develop solutions to help youths recovering from substance abuse as well as those afflicted with mental illness.
The John Volken Academy provides long-term residential addiction treatment and life skills training for young men and women ages 19 to 34.
Mike McNamara, president of the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Association, said firefighters as first responders “see families living in poverty because the parents are not mentally equipped to provide care needed to raise their children.
“Kids sent to school without lunches or warm clothing. We see mental illness driving people to addiction and pushing them into the streets, which inevitably leads to a rise in crime,” McNamara said. “For many years mental illness has been avoided by many because of the stigma that is attached.
“Mental illness or emotional injuries are normal and should be treated no differently than an injury somewhere else in your body,” he said. “We know that when a mental illness is caught early the success of treating it is much higher.”