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Victoria hospital’s mental health unit refocuses to help young adults

The unit will be for people aged 17 to 26, dealing with mental health, substance-use problems
Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA Grace Lore speak at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria Monday (March 18, 2024) for an announcement about a new young adult mental health unit at the hospital. (Bailey Seymour)

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital has reconfigured part of its psychiatry unit to better help young adults during an acute mental health episode.

The 16-bed unit, for people aged 17 to 26, was first opened in November 2023 in phases to allow existing patients to complete their hospital stay. Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA Grace Lore was at the hospital Monday (March 18) for the official opening.

“We know that approximately three quarters of serious mental health issues emerge before the age of 25,” said Lore. “That is why timely intervention and care for a mental health crisis is critical.”

The unit includes therapy dogs and supports for Indigenous youth and people in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. The unit has been at capacity since it opened in November.

“In our community, one challenge stands out prominently, the profound need for comprehensive recovery oriented mental health services. This is particularly true for young adults who may experience a mental health challenge,” said Leah Hollins, chair for the Island Health board of directors. “Our aim is to have the temporary-young guests to go back to their communities as soon as possible, where they can continue to recover further, with the help and support from a wide range of community based mental wellness programs.”

She said all-ages patient units didn’t work well for young adults, who “are no longer children, and yet they are not yet full adults,” and they need different supports from older adults or children.

Royal Jubilee currently has 58 inpatient psychiatry beds, which includes 10 psychiatry intensive care beds.

Admission to the new young adult unit is based on physician assessment and referral. Patients must be experiencing an active episode or an exacerbation of psychosis or a mood disorder.

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