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First ever urgent mental health and addictions help hub to open in B.C.

Last Updated Jul 10, 2019 at 1:01 pm PDT

FILE - Surrey Memorial Hospital. (Fraser Health Photo)

The Surrey Mental Health and Substance Use Urgent Care Response Centre starts accepting patients this month

Patients will be referred by care providers or emergency departments and will be offered same-day appointments

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – A new centre that aims to get urgent mental health and addictions help to people faster is starting to accept patients in Surrey.

The province says the Surrey Mental Health and Substance Use Urgent Care Response Centre is the first of its kind in B.C. and will get help to people with urgent mental health care needs, like anxiety, crisis situations, trauma, and addictions.

“Ask for help once. Get help fast,” said Minister for Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy at a news conference Wednesday morning.

“Mental health issues are not a sign of weakness. Addiction is not a sign of moral failure. They are health issues, period, and we are going to treat them that way.”

RELATED: Province announced 10-year plan to address mental health, addiction

Patients will be referred to the centre by care providers or emergency departments. Same-day appointments will be offered to help stabilize patients, determine a treatment plan, and connect them to the services they need.

“We’re dealing with an unpredictable drug supply, we are escalating our efforts. One of the most important is medication assisted treatment, otherwise known as opioid agonist therapy so there will be OAT available,” added Darcy.

Gina ChaCha has dealt with mental health issues, works in peer support and outreach, and helped plan the centre.

“I can actually say to my patients ‘things are going to be wonderful,’ and I have a great sense of peace about everything that I’ve seen here,” she said.

RELATED: Mental health supports expanded for frontline health workers in B.C. 

Patient-focused, the centre will feature a nature inspired design, private waiting spaces, a group room available for healing circles, smudging ceremonies and drumming, and even laundry and showers.

84 staff and physicians will work at the centre, including clinical counsellors and social workers, a substance-use services access team, psychiatrists, mental health care workers, nurses, homeless outreach workers and a pharmacist.

It will be housed in the Charles Barham Pavilion on the Surrey Memorial Hospital campus and will provide support to people from surrounding communities, including Delta, Langley and White Rock on evenings and weekends.

The project came in at $5 million and will cost $8.9 million annually once up and running, which will be August 7, after a phased-in opening over the next few weeks.