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Chilliwack awarded $1.5M to set up Foundry centre to serve youth

New Foundry to offer ‘a welcoming, stigma-free place’ to address mental-health, addiction challenges
Chilliwack advocates have been making the case for a Foundry centre here, and it’s coming to fruition. (Foundry)

A new Foundry centre is on the way for Chilliwack to help connect youth with mental health and addiction supports before the challenges become roadblocks.

Chilliwack awarded $1.5 million to set up a new Foundry, joining several other communities where these youth-centred resources are already open, or in development across B.C.

“There’s nothing more important than helping kids and their families. That’s why we’re making a significant expansion in child and youth health and wellness supports so more young people can get connected to the services they need,” said Jennifer Whiteside, minister of mental health and addictions.

Foundry provides free and confidential youth services like mental health and addiction counselling, physical and sexual health care, peer support and social services.

New Foundry centres are coming to Chilliwack, South Surrey, Burnaby, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Quesnel, Sooke-Westshore, Vancouver, Vanderhoof and the West Kootenays.

The approach by Foundry offers “a welcoming, stigma-free place” for young people to connect to health supports to address mental-health and addiction challenges before they become roadblocks.

Officials with the Chilliwack Youth Health Centre said they are “excited to hear” that Chilliwack is getting this type of health care support created just for youth: “We look forward to partnering with Fraser Health in the development of a Chilliwack Foundry.”

Local MLAs say it will mean better access to care focused on early intervention, prevention and addictions supports, all closer to home.

“There has been an outpouring of support and advocacy for more youth services here in Chilliwack, and I am thrilled that soon we’ll have more resources to help young people who might be struggling,” said Kelli Paddon, MLA for Chilliwack-Kent. “The compassionate people here who work and volunteer with youth and care so much about our community will help ensure that this new Foundry centre can make an incredible impact.”

Approximately 75 per cent of serious mental health issues emerge before age 25, and the pandemic, global uncertainty, and climate emergencies continue to disproportionately impact young people, resulting in increased rates of depression and anxiety.

“Investing in our youth is one of the most important things we can do to strengthen our community, said Dan Coulter, MLA for Chilliwack. “Foundry centres across the province have already helped so many young people, and this new centre will make a real difference for youth here in Chilliwack.”

It’s geared to young people aged 12-24, and their families or guardians.

“Accessing care can be overwhelming, especially if you’re young, and this centre means that youth in Chilliwack can have a one-stop-shop to get on track with the care they need,” said Tzeachten Chief Derek Epp.

FVRD Chair Jason Lum says local advocates have been striving toward this big announcement.

“This is great news for Chilliwack and the region. I know how hard local advocates worked to make the case for a Foundry, this provincial investment will be welcome, and go a long way to ensure young people who need supports aren’t being left behind.”

School Trustee Teri Westerby noted: “Stronger services for youth is indeed something to celebrate. There are young people in our community who really struggle with mental health and addictions issues and these additional supports will help expand the scope of care and help youth in Chilliwack with a hopeful and happy future.”

Almost 18,000 B.C. youth were helped by Foundry last year with 14,987 young people who came for in-person services at Foundry Centres, and another 2,580 who accessed Foundry Virtual services.

Foundry director Steve Mathias said it’s about allowing youth to express who they are, and live life on their own terms.

“Young people, now more than ever, desperately need safe spaces where they can access mental-health, physical-health, substance-use, and social services without feeling judged or stigmatized,” Mathias said. “There is still a lot of work to be done, and Foundry will continue our unwavering commitment to revolutionize the health and wellness landscape for young people.”

Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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