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Central Okanagan needs to develop shared vision when it involves mental health

A Lake Country resident presented her project about mental health and substance use

Organizations in the Central Okanagan need to collaborate and better communicate to help patients suffering from mental health and substance use issues.

Lake Country resident Christina Camilleri, who has more than 25 years of experience in behavioral counseling, presented her two-year master’s project to Lake Country council during a regular meeting Tuesday night, outlining issues with mental health and substance use services.

In her findings, which includes perspectives from healthcare professionals, patients, and families, she said, “organizations don’t necessarily support a culture of collaboration and what that means is that people are not necessarily paid directly to work with other people.”

There isn’t a shared purpose and vision between organizations, she said. There is also no universal definition of patient-centred care, and each healthcare discipline looks at it differently, she said.

Her findings also included: patient dissatisfaction with relationships in the current mental health and substance use services, participants described a fragmented system across the Central Okanagan which lacks accessibility and integrative services, they expressed a lack of understanding about the model of care and described that there is no apparent system model.

“What the outcomes of my research illustrated was that we (need) transformational change in mental health care throughout the Central Okanagan,” she said.

Currently, the system features fragmented relationships and philosophies, and lacks proper communications and collaboration which negatively impacts staff, patients, and families, she said.

Camilleri recommended for the district and Interior Health to build trust and respect in relationships with the service system, defining collaboration for professionals, developing a shared definition and vision and to practice transparency with engaging patients and families.

Camilleri’s research comes at a time when mental health in Kelowna has begun a system of collaboration with the opening of the Foundry, a one-stop shop for mental health.

Coun. Bill Scarrow asked what steps council could take towards immediately creating a vision for the region.

Camilleri said for Lake Country, it could bring together members from the community and build a planning process of what they would like to see changed in the health care system.

Mental health in youth is a crushing urgency in Lake Country, said Coun. Blair Ireland. He had the misfortune of attending a funeral service for a 21-year-old two weeks ago, he said.

If anything, things are getting much better, said Brenda Kalinovich, executive director of the Lake Country Health Planning Society.

“People are able to gain better insight on how each other is doing, and we’re working together to clarify things,” she said. “(But) there’s always work to be done for sure.”

The agency is working towards creating a health hub in Lake Country.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


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