Vernon, Richmond lead mental health pilot projects


The Ministry of Children and Family Development and the Ministry of Health are strengthening supports for families affected by mental illness, substance abuse and domestic violence. Pilot projects are being launched in Vernon and Richmond to help front-line staff in a variety of health and community settings to better and more consistently identify and manage situations where the safety of children may be at risk. Extensive consultations with service providers in both communities will inform the development of new screening tools, risk assessments, information sharing and referral process.


The goals of the projects are to:

  • Identify, as early as possible, parents with serious untreated mental illness and/or problematic substance abuse and/or risk of domestic violence when families come in contact with health care and/or MCFD services.
  • Determine when there is risk to children, connect affected families with appropriate supports and services, and monitor their progress over time.

“Our government continues to focus on a strong, effective, and co-ordinated approach to protecting B.C. children and families,” said Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development. “The projects in Vernon and Richmond are an essential step in ensuring that effective procedures are in place, vital information is shared and staff members receive training to assess risk factors and better address the safety needs of children.”As the projects progress, staff will receive training in enhanced family-sensitive practices that address the care and protection not only of parents in treatment but also of children and family members.

The pilots will involve emergency departments, primary care, public health, community mental health and substance use services, child and youth services and other community organizations.

“Pilot projects in Vernon and Richmond are the first steps in what will be an eventual province-wide program to provide better support for families impacted by mental illness, substance use problems and domestic violence,” said Margaret MacDiarmid, Minister of Health.

A provincial steering committee with representatives from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the Ministry of Health, health authorities and the Provincial Office of Domestic Violence is guiding project development. An evaluation of the pilots will assess how they are working, which will help shape province-wide implementation, anticipated in 2014.

These pilots are part of government’s response to the Representative for Children and Youth’s report, Honouring Kaitlynne, Max and Cordon: Make Their Voices Heard Now.