SUPPORT IN CRISIS?

Housing with Onsite Mental Health Clinical Supports Saves Lives

Coast Mental Health provides numerous services for residents at its supportive housing sites and staff also refer clients to other vital resources available in the community. However, experience has taught us that clinical supports work best when they are readily available to clients. There is a great need for in-house supports such as physicians and nurses as well as onsite programming (e.g., psychosocial rehabilitation services, training, and employment) to assist people in drug recovery to prevent relapses and overdoses. Affordable housing combined with these intensive coordinated services can provide the assistance needed for people to maintain a stable home.

Onsite Clinical Support

Coast Mental Health recently joined forces with Dr. Bill MacEwan, the former head of psychiatry at St. Paul’s Hospital and a clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UBC, to open a one-day-a-week psychiatric clinic for residents living in our Maple Ridge sites. The results are remarkable with the number of residents accessing mental health supports doubling since January 2021. Not only do clients receive an immediate connection to the supports they desperately need, Dr. MacEwan has knowledge of the needs and processes to help them manage their mental health. This is shared with our staff so they can better assist clients. The result? Better treatment outcomes.

This clinic demonstrates the difference greater government investment in in-house clinical supports could make. Non-profit housing providers urgently need access to more professional healthcare practitioners (doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, social workers, and counsellors) to provide in-house clinical supports to assist vulnerable populations living in our communities.

Further Successes

Our Maple Ridge sites have noted other successes. We advocated for funding for a seven-day-a-week nurse to support all three sites. Nurse services provide tenants with onsite assessments, guidance with medications, and referrals to much needed medical resources. Nursing expertise has been key to identifying medical issues that may require a physician and aiding in addressing ongoing medical and psychiatric concerns. Regular onsite physician visits are also happening that allow tenants to address primary health concerns they have ignored for years. As well, these visits allow the doctor to prescribe opioid replacement therapy medications. These and the other supports we offer our Maple Ridge residents have contributed to a significant decrease in drug-related deaths in the district, demonstrating that housing with onsite clinical mental health supports saves lives.

It's amazing to want to live

For the first time in his life, Shawak feels like he’s part of a family. The 22-year-old has been living at Renfrew House, an eight-bed community home managed by Coast Mental Health, for close to a year. He has made friends and knows the staff are there for him.

 

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Research confirms that living without stable housing can drastically worsen a person’s health. Residents with supportive housing that include clinical services use costly systems like visits to emergency departments less frequently. They are also less likely to be incarcerated. We call on government to calculate the savings that come from providing supportive housing with onsite clinical supports (reductions in the use of homeless shelters, emergency room visits, inpatient hospitalizations, stays in psychiatric hospitals, incarceration) and make the compassionate and practical investment in supporting mental wellbeing.

With your support, we can do more. Say #yesinmybackyard and help #fundmentalhealth.

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YOUR SUPPORT SAVES LIVES

Your donation to Coast Mental Health Foundation provides essential housing, support, and employment services for people with mental illness so they can find their meaningful place in our community – a place to live, a place to connect, and a place to work.