Mental health

May 30th, 2012

The Mental Health Department at St. Paul’s is committed to changing the labels. That means they see each person, before they see their illness.

As Vancouver’s downtown hospital, St. Paul’s provides mental health care to a diverse range of patients that includes residents of Vancouver’s West End, executives and workers in the downtown core, visitors to the city and residents of the impoverished Downtown Eastside, where mental illness is often combined with other challenges such as poverty, homelessness and substance issues.

With one in five Canadians experiencing mental illness – and the stigma attached to it – there has never been a greater need for the compassionate care for which St. Paul’s is known.

Key programs and accomplishments

To address the needs of these patients, St. Paul’s Mental Health Program offers a broad range of coordinated emergency, inpatient, outpatient, specialized diagnostic and treatment services.

Complex Pain Centre

This unique program helps patients manage severe pain that is unresponsive to conventional treatment. The program supports patients dealing with pain related to conditions such as cancer, back pain, chronic headaches or low blood flow to muscles and/or body tissue.

Emergency psychiatric care

St. Paul’s serves 85 percent of the most severe mental health emergency patients in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. St. Paul’s has the only secure inpatient units in Vancouver, as well as the only secure seclusion, assessment and ER treatment area. The hospital’s new nine-bed Acute Behaviour Stabilization Unit provides care to mental health/substance abuse patients needing assessment and/or admission.

Inpatient care

St. Paul’s offers general inpatient mental health units to assist adults with more serious mental health and addictions issues. There are four general inpatient mental health units at St. Paul’s, with a total of 60 beds, where adults with mental health and addictions can be assessed and treated.

Inner City Youth program

Psychiatrists in this innovative outreach program visit areas frequented by homeless youth to offer support for mental health and substance use disorders. Since 2007, the program’s psychiatrists, social workers, occupational therapists and psychiatric nurses have cared for more than 400 youth whose conditions would otherwise have gone without assessment or treatment due to this group’s itinerancy and distrust of traditional support systems.

Provincial Adult Eating Disorders program

St. Paul’s is the provincial referral centre for adults with anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders. Patients benefit from specialized care and counseling related to nutrition, body weight and body image. Referrals for assessment and treatment are accepted from secondary eating disorders programs throughout BC. If a secondary program is not available, referrals are accepted from primary care physicians, nurse practitioners and community mental health services.

Psychiatric services

When a patient with mental health issues must deal with a serious physical condition, as well, it can be a challenge for both patient and family. St. Paul’s offers a range of psychiatric services for patients dealing with other health issues, including geriatric health, reproductive health and issues related to emergency, cardiac and kidney care. These services include urgent assessments, short-term support and individual, couple, family and group counseling.

Urban psychiatry

St. Paul’s collaborates with community partners to assess, treat and follow individuals with psychiatric illness in the community who would otherwise not have access to mental health care. The program has dual goals of addressing psychiatric problems before they become a crisis; and following up with recently discharged patients to help prevent readmission.

How you can help

Make a donation to support world-leading care, research and teaching at St. Paul’s that benefits some of our most vulnerable mental health patients.

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