Author: Karen Copeland
Late last week, I was pleased to be able to lend my support to an initiative happening in my local area – the development of a short stay psychiatric stabilization unit for children and youth who are experiencing a mental health crisis in the Fraser Region. Fraser Health has committed to this project and the Surrey Hospital and Outpatient Centre Foundation is currently fundraising to make this critically needed resource a reality. I traveled to Surrey to film a short video about why I think this resource is important to be used in upcoming fundraising campaigns.
This was an interesting experience for me, as it was the first time I have ever had the ‘bright lights’ shone upon me – I wasn’t nervous – I was more concerned about making sure I got my message across clearly. It was wonderful to work with Anne and her team. Everyone was incredibly supportive and welcoming, which made this much easier.
So why do I think this resource is important?
Currently, families who have children or youth who require short stay psychiatric care in the Fraser Region are only able to access pediatric specific services at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.
When our children or youth are in crisis, we are worrying about so many things at once. One of those worries does not need to be travelling for a long period of time to access support. Not to mention trying to figure out other logistics like who will take care of your other children, or having to negotiate rush hour traffic.
For our own family, we were required to access a program in Vancouver for a period of several weeks last year. The planning process to organize who would come stay with our other child (thank you Grandma!), how would we manage time off work, how would we deal with hotel accommodations was overwhelming. Not to mention the high cost of parking, travel costs, eating out and other expenses. This on top of the myriad of emotions you are experiencing because you see your child struggling and there doesn’t seem like there is much you can do about it.
What about the single parent who may be from farther out in the Fraser Valley, who may have other children, who may have to negotiate with her (or his) employer to arrange for time off?
It just makes sense to have this resource available to families in this region. I really applaud Fraser Health for recognizing the need in our communities and making the commitment to make this short-stay stabilization unit happen. It will make a huge difference for our children, youth and families who are experiencing mental health crises in our communities.