The Whistler Health Care Foundation (WHCF) has stepped up in a big way to support a new Lower Mainland facility providing integrated services for youth with acute mental illness and drug-use issues.
The Carlile Youth Concurrent Disorders Centre, located on the third floor of North Vancouver's HOpe Centre, offers care for young people requiring short-term intervention focused on harm reduction, drug withdrawal management and recovery.
The WHCF recently donated a cheque for $25,000 to the facility.
"We tried to focus and identify an area we should be concentrating on where there is a big need in our community, and the need is mental health resources for young people, and this is where the HOpe Centre and the Carlile Centre fit in so nicely," explained WHCF board member Dr. Vera Frinton.
The Lions Gate Hospital Foundation noted a similar need in the region, which led to the idea of the Carlile Centre, the first facility of its kind in B.C. and only the second in Canada.
"We raised about $25 million for the HOpe Centre, and in doing that, we created shelf space because we knew we would need to expand," explained Judy Savage, president and CEO of the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation.
"We desperately needed a centre for youth between 13 and 18 years with a concurrent disorder."
Treatment at the 10-bed unit typically lasts between 10 and 21 days, and is geared towards getting youth the help they need to get their lives back on track, offering a range of therapeutic support, including counselling and psychiatric assessment. But the facility has strayed away from the institutional feel of most treatment centres, offering holistic support, such as yoga, cooking classes, and art and music therapy, in a relaxed, comfortable setting. Each patient has their own bedroom, is free to cook in the communal kitchen, and can even hang in the "Chill Out Room," sponsored by the WHCF.
"It's a room they can go to if they need to be by themselves and hang out on a bean bag chair and play music or whatever they need to do," noted Frinton, who recently toured the site.* "This freshness and space, it feels nice in there. It's not an institution at all."
Thirty-five youth from across B.C. — including one from Whistler and one from Squamish — have been admitted to the centre since it opened in April. In that time, three patients have graduated high school while in the unit, while two others have gone on to university.
In a letter to the Carlile Centre staff that was shared with Pique, a mother of a recovering meth addict spoke about what the facility had done for her son.
"You have given my son a 2nd chance at life and an exhausted mother hope!," she wrote. "There is no greater gift in my eyes."
Along with the WHCF, the Carlile Centre has also received help from the Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation, headed by Whistler's Ginny and Kerry Dennehy.
"A number of donors we have are from the Whistler area," Savage said. "I would like to give a shout-out to the Whistler community for being so generous and supporting us on this."
*In an earlier version of this story, Pique misattributed a quote by Whistler Health Care Foundation board member Dr. Vera Frinton to Judy Savage, Lions Gate Hospital Foundation president. Pique regrets the error.