An estimated one million people in BC do not have a family doctor, and in BC’s north, even those with access to primary care must often travel long distances just to get the help they need.
Simply getting an appointment with a medical professional is just the first step — and for sensitive or complex issues, it may not be enough. For youth facing mental health challenges, substance abuse issues or sexual health questions, accessible, age-specific care can mean the difference between getting the help they need or getting no help at all.
“On average, one in four youth state they would have gone nowhere had their Foundry centre been unavailable,” says Michael McFetridge, Executive Director of Terrace & District Community Services Society (TDCSS) which is currently fundraising to build a new space for Foundry Terrace.
Once a community has a Foundry centre or access to Foundry’s virtual services, young people and families no longer have to ask, “Where can we go for help?”
One door, many services
Foundry uses a care model called Integrated Youth Services (IYS). With IYS, a young person goes to one place and service providers (including physicians, nurses, counsellors, peer support workers and many others) collaborate with them and each other to provide the care needed, all without needing a referral.
Even in a small, interim space, the Foundry service model is clearly working for Terrace youth.
“Having the nurse practitioner on hand means my daughter has access to accurate information, and it’s all confidential,” says one Terrace parent. “For some concerns, asking her family doctor isn’t something my daughter is comfortable with. But the nurse practitioner is accessible, knowledgable, comfortable and confidential. She feels safe asking questions about her sexual health, and it helps combat the misinformation she gets from her peers.”
In Canada, an estimated 70 per cent of mental health problems begin during childhood or adolescence. At the same time, youth are often unable to access supports until they’re very sick, at which point it can be too late to prevent lifelong negative outcomes. Help can also lack coordination, or be associated with historical harms of governmental systems.
“At Foundry, youth can walk into one place and get help for all of their concerns, and they can access many services virtually as well. Our service providers collaborate so youth don’t have to repeat their story or request additional referrals, and we’re able to provide support much earlier, before crisis hits,” McFetridge says.
Support Terrace youth, donate to the new Foundry
TDCSS is raising funds for a new, purpose-built Foundry building, so young people in the community can receive the full breadth of services and supports. Community members are welcome to visit the interim Foundry Terrace site to better understand the current successes and future needs, and find out more about the new build.