Jessica Bell with the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island speaks at a fundraiser gathering for the organization at Agrius Restaurant. The event raised more than $13,000 for a new youth mental health hub, which recently opened in Victoria. Photo contributed

Youth mental health hub given boost by Victoria fundraiser

Opening of ‘one-stop’ shop support facility applauded

An intimate gathering at a downtown Victoria restaurant last week brought together people with various connections to the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island.

Dale Collins and her staff at Langford-based Prosperity Planning spearheaded the fundraiser for the foundation, which recently opened its youth mental health hub at 818 Douglas St. The Oct. 3 event saw the operators of Agrius Restaurant on Yates Street close for the special event: thanks to donated food and beverages, plus silent auction items, more than $13,000 was raised.

Collins, her office manager Tracy Trousdell and staffer Kelsey Harris, whose husband, Sam, is the head chef at Agrius, have each had personal involvement with programs supported by the Children’s Health Foundation, and were enthusiastic about helping out, Trousdell said.

“For me it was just about supporting the foundation,” she said. “I can vouch personally for the amazing work they do, and anytime I can give back to them it works for me.”

Three guest speakers gave those gathered a better sense of the hub project. They included Jessica Bell, the Children’s Health Foundation foundation’s director of development; Justin Thomson from NEED2 Suicide Prevention and Education Support, and Zoe Newson, a Vic High alumna and local youth mental health ambassador.

The integrated youth mental health hub, a partnership between lead agency the Victoria Youth Clinic, NEED2 and Island Health, opened the day before and had a lineup of teens waiting to come in, Bell told the News later. It will eventually offer such services as counselling and emotional supports, sexual health services and more.

“It brings experts and services under one roof,” she said of the new facility at 818 Douglas St. “We wanted to transform the way health care and mental health services are provided in the community for youth. When you’re in the same place, great collaboration can happen.”

According to the foundation, one in five Island youth need help with a mental health or substance use issue, but as few as 20 per cent have access to such services. Following on research that found 75 per cent of mental health and substance use issues begin between age 12 and 24, and the figure that nearly three times more Canadian youth die from suicide than cancer each year, the foundation began teaming with other service providers to create a space where youth and their families could find help addressing those life challenges.

To find out more about the hub, visit childrenshealthvi.org.

editor@vicnews.com

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