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EDITORIAL: Mental health crisis demands immediate action in Sooke

Sooke News Mirror - 12/5/2023

The recent report released by the Sooke Region Communities Health Network has brought to the forefront a distressing reality plaguing our community – the dire inadequacy of mental health and addiction services.

This revelation requires prompt and coordinated action from all levels of government.

The report underscores a disturbing trend – youth and seniors in our region are disproportionately suffering from heightened rates of depression and anxiety.

Regrettably, this problem is not isolated to our community alone. Across Canada, mental health illnesses affect a substantial portion of the population annually.

The SRCHN report spotlights alarming figures—elevated occurrences of depression, mood disorders, and anxiety within our region compared to the rest of British Columbia. Comprehensive measures, including emergency psychiatric care and peer-to-peer support programs, are imperative to confront this crisis.

SRCHN rightly calls for increased funding and support from provincial and federal governments. The current stagnation in funding levels, coupled with rising needs, has led to the unfortunate closure of vital mental health and addiction services.

Encouragingly, recent provincial commitments, such as allocating $1 billion for expanding treatment options and establishing specialized youth-focused centers, offer a glimmer of hope. MLA Ravi Parmar's commitment to addressing mental health concerns within our region during his forthcoming meeting with Minister Jennifer Whiteside is a step in the right direction.

The urgency cannot be overstated. Immediate solutions and interim measures, like the Sooke Family Resources Society and private counsellors, must be bolstered to cater to pressing needs.

SRCHN's advocacy efforts and regional mental health committee formation are commendable steps toward dialogue and action. However, it's crucial that these initiatives translate into tangible reforms and increased support.

The time for lip service is over. The mental health crisis in the Sooke Region demands not just attention but tangible, swift, and sustained action.