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Pictured: North Shore youth

Foundry a beacon of hope for young people

November 14th, 2017
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When individuals and families are dealing with mental health or substance use issues, hope can seem far away. It isn’t.

With half of all lifetime cases of mental health and substance use issues presenting by age 14, such a young age, we can feel powerless. We shouldn’t.

So much has changed. So much darkness lifted, stigma removed, hope restored. And a beacon of hope for young people is Foundry, a province-wide St. Paul’s initiative.

The brainchild of a small group of St. Paul’s psychiatrists, Foundry is modeled on the success of the Granville Youth Health Centre in Vancouver, a project of St. Paul’s Inner City Youth Program.

Because young people had been describing visits to adult clinics as “traumatic” (and so they would simply not keep appointments) the Granville Youth Health Centre adopted a youth-friendly design, more hip loft than drab institution. Even the art on the walls was created by the centre’s young clientele. Within its first year of operation, the centre was seeing unprecedented statistics for follow-up appointments being kept.

This new approach was working.

It was working so well that, in 2017, four new Foundry centres opened in Kelowna, Campbell River, North Shore and Prince George, thus representing each of the province’s five health authorities. And another five centres will be opening in 2018-19.

While 50% of mental health and problematic substance use issues present by age 14, that figure increases dramatically, to 75% when the broader demographic of 12-24 is considered. This is the age range Foundry focuses on because this is when young people must be able to access the care they need, in a welcoming and non-judgmental setting, before it’s too late.

What has been most heartening, especially as we reflect on stories of hope during St. Paul’s annual Lights of Hope fundraising effort, has been the fundraising undertaken in each of the five communities. Individuals, businesses and government worked together, raising funds, leveraging each dollar to raise more, to make Foundry a reality.

When enough people come together, when we share a common goal, powerlessness dissipates and hope comes into view. Bring hope to others during this special Lights of Hope season. Give now.

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