The B.C. government says a retrofitted ambulance is being turned into a mobile unit that will travel to remote northwestern communities near Terrace to provide mental health and addictions services.
Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy said the joint initiative with Northern Health, the local health authority, was based on feedback from the community.
“Some of the same staff who came up with the idea are the ones that are going to be ‘on the bus’, in the mobile unit, going out to serve those communities.”
A joint release from the Ministry and Northern Health said the unit will improve access to services in the area.
“Northern Health places a strong focus of ensuring care in the right place, addressing stigma, and improving access to services,” Northern Health Board Chair Colleen Nyce said in the release.
“This mobile unit helps support those goals by providing direct access, education and support to those people who may face barriers in access – and the ultimate intention is to link individuals back in to services within their community.”
Darcy said it’s important that mental health and addictions services be available to people where they are — because people who need them will likely have a hard time travelling to get to them.
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“When you’re struggling with mental illness, you’re struggling with addiction, getting on a bus or finding transportation to travel considerable distance, you need to be able to get the help when you need it, where you need it,” Darcy said.
Darcy said along with mental health and addictions services, the unit will also provide naloxone kits, basic wound care and assistance with social support resources for housing, finances, employment, health cards, and dental and eye care.