B.C. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy speaks to reporters at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 24, 2020. This week, Darcy announced the formation of a new ACT team for the Cowichan Valley to help those with mental health challenges. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy speaks to reporters at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 24, 2020. This week, Darcy announced the formation of a new ACT team for the Cowichan Valley to help those with mental health challenges. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

New ACT team will help Cowichan residents struggling with mental health issues

The Cowichan Valley ACT team will be one of six new teams being created across the province.

People living with severe mental health challenges in the Cowichan Valley will have increased access to 24/7 community-based supports and services through a new Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team.

“For many people, COVID-19 has made existing mental health struggles even worse. We’ve heard from vulnerable people and from communities that they need more specialized care for those living with really severe mental health challenges,” said Judy Darcy, minister of Mental Health and Addictions. The new ACT team “will deliver the care people need to get better and rebuild their lives as well as help stabilize and resolve the challenging situations that some communities have seen in the past few months.”

The Cowichan Valley ACT team will be one of six new teams being created across the province.

They will provide flexible, individualized support — including community living, psychosocial supports and recovery — for adults with serious, complex and often persistent mental health challenges that make it difficult to manage day-to-day activities. Most ACT clients have not responded well to traditional outpatient mental health services.

The teams are mobile and deliver 24/7 services in the community, such as in client’s homes, workplaces, parks and recreation locations, rather than in a traditional office setting. This makes these teams well suited to deliver services to all British Columbians, including those living in supportive housing or in encampments.

Up to 60 new staff will be hired to support six new teams.

ACT teams are the highest standard for delivering community-based mental health services for people with serious challenges. Existing teams have resulted in substantially improved outcomes for people with higher needs, as well as the communities where they live.

Team services differ by community but can include: crisis assessment and intervention, housing supports, psychiatric/psychological treatment, medication management, supports for substance use disorder, work-related services, family support, healthy lifestyle choices and social/recreational activities. Services are delivered by a team of mental health practitioners from a variety of disciplines, including psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, substance-use specialists, peer support workers and vocational specialists who tailor the support to the unique needs of each client.

BC Health