It’s the first of its kind in B.C. — a mobile home bus converted into a travelling mental health clinic for youth aged 12-24 in the Central Okanagan.
Operated by Canadian Mental Health Association, the Wellness on Wheels initiative of Foundry Kelowna could be the start of something much bigger than one bus in the Okanagan.
“We are going to be able to take it out to the outlying areas of the Central Okanagan, in particular Lake Country, West Kelowna and the Westbank First Nation,” said Mike Gawliuk, CMHA Kelowna’s director of service delivery and program innovation.
The goal is to bring low-barrier access to mental health services, health care, and navigation services for young people in the region.
“There are young people that aren’t getting to us,” said Gawliuk.
“So what this does is it allows us to get help to those people. (It will give) someone the help they need now, being successful in their lives and finding mental wellness.”
Youth advisers for CMHA Kelowna say the new mobile clinic has been a priority for the mental health service.
“I think it’s extremely needed. I think it’s super important to get this out there,” said Anansha Gounder, CMHA Kelowna’s youth advisory lead.
“Because there are so many hidden barriers, even barriers we might not even know about yet.”
Youth who use Foundry Kelowna’s services have told CMHA staff that they are excited for the program, citing the removal of transit for them.
“I have heard a lot of excitement about the fact they don’t have to come to the centre in town anymore,” said Gounder.
“I think everyone is just excited to be able to access the services, without taking the whole day off of work or school.”
“This is something we believe has potential for other regions of the province to emulate and test, especially those areas that are much more remote,” said Gawliuk.
The program is expected to start in June.