Mental health: New service opens for Richmond youth

It was a cold Saturday night in February when a group of 14 Richmond youth came together to plan what a new youth mental-health hub should look and feel like.

Their priorities were to make it a comfortable space for young people and add some natural, organic elements — hence the wood accents inside Foundry Richmond, which had its soft opening in July in city centre.

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“Youth in Richmond have been super involved — and super advocates,” said Tania Wicken, operations lead at Foundry Richmond.

The youth mental health hub, for those aged 12 to 24, received funding already more than two years ago from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, but they have struggled to find a suitable space. So, they have set up a interim site on Granville Avenue, just close to No. 3 Road, co-located with youth sexual health services.

The current facility is only 1,800 square feet with a lobby, counselling rooms and a multi-purpose room. But Wicken said they are actively looking for a permanent location with 8,000 square feet.

Youth are at a different brain development phase than children or adults, and this is why they need specialized, targeted services, explained Foundry Richmond walk-in counsellor Sean Ford.

Foundry Richmond offers them counselling, support and referrals to other programs.

In addition, parents can get help to support their youth.

Anxiety is one of the top challenges youth are dealing with, explained Ford, and this has only been exacerbated by the pandemic and the subsequent isolation.

Youth can come to Foundry Richmond on their own initiative, but if parents notice red flags, like significant changes in behaviour, lack of enjoyment or interaction with peers, they can reach out for support on how to help their kids.

In addition to counsellors, there are also trained peer support workers with “lived experience” who can help parents navigate the system. 

Foundry is meant to be a walk-in service, but opening during a pandemic meant adapting to safety protocols — they encourage young people to call ahead to book an appointment, but they try to fit them in either the same day or within a couple days, Ford explained.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Foundry is trying to offer as close to a walk-in service as possible, explained Wicken.

Foundry’s goal is to have strong partnerships with other services so there would be a “seamless” process to get youth connected to them, Wicken explained.

Foundry Richmond is at 115-8100 Granville Ave.

To book an appointment, call 604-674-0550 Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For information about Foundry Richmond, visit foundrybc.ca/Richmond.

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