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B.C. ‘recovery college’ looks to bridge gaps in mental health, substance use disorder

This program offers free courses, from self management to pet therapy

A new educational course is looking to change the gaps in mental health and substance use systems in B.C. – which in turn could make taking the first step to recovery a little bit easier,

Recovery College YVR, launched in early May, offers free courses and social support groups intended to destigmatize and discuss the changing gaps in mental health and substance use systems.

Tuesday (May 30) marks four weeks since the Canadian Mental Health Association and Vancouver Coastal Health launched the program.Avneet Mann, communications coordinator for the CMHA North and West Vancouver branch, says that it has been off to a very positive response.

“Since we launched, we’ve had countless requests for Recovery College brochures and posters, as well as inquiries about how to register. These are all signs of success for us, so it’s just been a really exciting time,” Mann said.

B.C. is known to be the one of the worst provinces in the country for fatal toxic drug poisonings. Last year, paramedics responded to over 33,500 poisoning calls, a five per cent decrease from the previous year, according to BC Emergency Health Services.

READ MORE: Mapping where overdoses are more likely to kill in B.C.

Recovery College YVR offers guided meditation, self management, art therapy and pet therapy. It also offers self-directed, free, and readily available courses, with advice coming from service providers and peer mentors who each have personal experience with the topic at hand.

Research shows that many acute mental health services only focus on those with complex clinical presentations. This has left 20 per cent of Canadians with mild to moderate mental health or substance use disorder without access to the appropriate resources and support.

“By offering a blend of in person and virtual courses, it can be effective in reaching people in settings where access of mental health is limited,” Mann said.

Recovery College YVR is launching to fill the gap of the estimated annual cost of $6.6 billion to the economy, which is caused by the residents of B.C. waiting until they reach a state of emergency before seeking the proper treatment, according to organizers.

“I hope that this sparks conversations surrounding mental health and or substance use, encourage questions and above all, advocate for folks to seek support if and when they need it,” Mann said.