Latimer: Mayors prioritize mental health

I don’t think it is beyond our grasp to create a well-organized network of services for those who need it.

It was with encouragement I read about a recent meeting of B.C. mayors.

By unanimous vote, the BC Mayors’ Caucus has declared the crisis around mental health, addictions and homelessness as a top priority for all communities.

At the Union of BC Municipalities convention in September, our province’s mayors agreed these problems are on the rise and they want action from the provincial government.

The Mayors’ Caucus wants the province to provide more long-term care beds for those with severe addictions and mental illness and also to increase community services so that everyone has access to appropriate care.

Ever since our last long term residential mental health facility closed in 2012, there has been a rise in mental health-related problems in B.C. communities.

This is not surprising and echoes what has been happening across the country ever since the trend toward deinstitutionalization began in the 1970s.

Governments love the idea of shutting down large mental health institutions because of the cost savings.

Unfortunately, the idea behind deinstitutionalization requires a simultaneous bolstering of community-based treatment centres and these never seem to get the necessary level of funding.

What results are more mentally ill people living on the streets and getting snared in our justice system rather than being properly cared for and supported.

Mental health professionals have been talking about this for years and it seems at least one level of government is finally getting the idea.

The way we’re doing this is simply not working.

We are dealing with people in ERs and jails instead of helping them remain functional within the community setting.

This isn’t good for the individuals and it costs us more as well.

Finally, some of the municipalities in BC have adopted policies such as ‘housing first’ to combat homelessness among the mentally ill and addicted.

This has had some excellent preliminary results and it is nice to see other communities coming on board.

Cities are also developing strategies to end homelessness and calling on the province to help with coordinating health care, police, social services and community supports for people dealing with complex issues. If our local, provincial and federal governments could all combine their efforts to make these issues a long-term priority, I believe it would be possible to put an end to homelessness in our province.

Not only that, I don’t think it is beyond our grasp to create a well-organized network of services combining community supports with long-term beds for those who need it.  We should be able to give excellent care to all our citizens and ensure we all have access to a healthy and dignified life.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Wildfire shuts down Highway 97 between Peachland and Summerland

Motorists may use an alternate route via Highway 97C, Highway 5A and Highway 3

Complete list of B.C. Interior wildfire coverage

Up-to-date information on blazes happening the Kamloops Wildfire Centre

Blasting set to start in West Kelowna’s Tallus Ridge neighbourhood

Blasting being done to prepare for 10th and 11th phases of development

Mill Creek is open once again

The Kelowna park has been closed due to flooding in 2017

911 jams causes panic among residents

RDOS chair received several calls and texts from panicked residents unable to get through to 911

Neighbours jump into action after grass fire ignites 10 feet from Kelowna home

Multiple fire halls responded to a grass fire on the 800 block of Mount Royal Drive.

Installers to battle Team B.C.

Exhibition men’s fastball Saturday in Vernon

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Ontario police say attack on Muslim man was motivated by hate

Two men, aged 27 and 19, have been charged with assault in the incident

Canadian Tire delivers toys to ease kids’ street play pain in B.C. neighbourhood

It’s like Christmas for 11 kids who are supposed to be confined to their yards by strata bylaw

Four wild fires still burning in South Okanagan

One fire was extinguished and another reported after lightning came through area

City orders largest Kinder Morgan protest camp to leave

Residents of Camp Cloud near the Trans Mountain work site have 72 hours to leave

Most Read