While some residents take to the streets to shoo people with addiction or mental health issues out of the neighbourhoods, others want to keep them in the neighbourhood.
Coast Mental Health, a non-profit organization, is challenging members of society who are opposing the development of community-based mental health services in their neighbourhoods through its ‘Yes, In My Backyard’ campaign.
Susan Hancock, senior manager of communications and community development with Coast Mental Health, said the campaign aims to bring awareness to the community about the importance of mental health programs and housing for individuals and their families who support them.
Coast Mental Health believes in a housing-first model, according to Hancock. Residents at their facilities can make better life choices because housing support is stable.
“You need to provide people with homes before they can start any form of recovery,” she said, adding that housing with permanent support is a priority and essential to help those in need.
“I recognize that there are different perspectives on housing vulnerable populations, but it’s about finding common grounds and shared understanding and I hope this advocacy campaign can build on that discussion regarding essential mental health support services.”
Since the campaign began in 2020, the non-profit provides service recommendations, as part of the provincial budget consultation process, to the B.C. government.
“These are services that build a thriving community and encourage people to get to know each other and to provide support to people in need,” said Hancock.
“Because of COVID-19, mental health has been at the top of the mind for many people and this has definitely helped push forth the needs for these services.”
This year, the campaign has made five recommendations to the government:
- Funding permanent housing with supports for people living with mental illness
- Provide on-site mental health clinical supports
- Invest in specialized employment and training programs to support recovery
- Deliver systemic change in the provision of healthcare to support vulnerable populations
- Advance information technology infrastructure to support vulnerable populations
The ‘Yes, In My Backyard’ campaign will be running throughout October and November.