B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson announces an app that is intended to connect children and youths with mental health and addictions services. (B.C. Government image/Flickr)

B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson announces an app that is intended to connect children and youths with mental health and addictions services. (B.C. Government image/Flickr)

5 years in the making: Mental health app for youths launches in B.C.

The province provided $1.6 million to fund virtual care platform

B.C. announced the launch of an app Friday (May 7) that connects youths struggling with mental health and substance use with “life-saving” social services.

B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson said people aged 12 to 24 will now have on-the-spot access to counsellors, practitioners and peer support.

The province provided $1.6 million to fund Foundry Virtual B.C., which took five years to create and builds upon in-person services offered at B.C.’s 11 Foundry centres.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated mental health challenges for children, youths and their caregivers, Malcolmson said.

At a time when in-person services are reduced due, the app will allow young people to schedule virtual appointments, access same-day supports and join peers in group sessions.

“We are removing more barriers to create faster and easier access to the help youths need,” she said. “Youths, especially those in rural and remote areas of the province, will be able to seek services on demand.”

READ ALSO: B.C. and Victoria’s overdose deaths still rising five years after public health emergency declared

Many have already been helped with the delivery of the platform, said Malcomson, noting 1,100 users already registered on the app.

No referrals are required and services, including sexual health consultations, are free and confidential.

Foundry Virtual B.C. is available for download through Apple and Google stores.

READ MORE: Suspected overdose death of Vancouver Island 12 year old speaks to lack of supports

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mental health