Foundry looks to change the lives of youth and how mental health is treated in the province
Kevin McMullin // Contributor
Midterms and final exams, for many students, are the worst. The pressure of performing well can make students feel overwhelmed and panicked, and despite the varied programs available at Capilano University, each comes with its own set of exams, projects and stresses. Mental health issues are on the rise among youth and counselling services are more in demand than ever.
Located at 211 West 1st Street on lower Lonsdale Avenue, Foundry is North Vancouver’s newest and one-of-a-kind youth mental health resource centre. The clinic had its open house in September and staff invited the public to view the facility, where they provide the opportunity for youth to talk to a counsellor or a youth worker to help manage stress and create a healthy school-work-life balance.
Yvana Avram, a 19-year-old peer youth navigator, has been involved in the mental health community for over three years. She helps youth navigate the system at Foundry and connect with any resources they may need. Avram is also there for emotional support for youth because all of the navigators have personal experience and are there to listen without judgement. She started volunteering in high school because she struggled with depression and general anxiety. She was selected by the STEPS program, which is supported and funded by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). She also volunteered with the CMHA and was an advocate for mental health awareness before she began working at Foundry in August.
Foundry is a one-stop shop for youth wellness, seeing as there are not only therapists and counsellors at the facility, but doctors, nurses, youth workers and youth peer navigators. A client never has to redirect to another facility if they need both a counsellor and a doctor.
In most private clinics, a 50-minute counselling session can cost anywhere between $60 and $150, but Foundry provides these services for free for youth between 12 and 24 years old. Their services include drop-in counselling, peer support for youth and mental health counselling. They also have parent navigators, a medical clinic, substance use counselling, Intensive Youth Outreach Services (iYOS), which is urgent response or intensive case management, family counselling and even more programs to help students and non- students alike.
Avram provides support for youth and directs them to appropriate specialists in the building or the program. “I really hope that we become more well known in our community and more well known in schools so that youth know that where ever they are at, they can always come in,” she said. “They don’t have to be in crisis, they don’t have to meet any qualifications to get in… they can just come in where ever they are at and we will meet them where ever they are at.”
Foundry North Vancouver hopes to serve between 1,200-2,500 youth this year.
“Trust yourself,” Avram recommended. “If you feel like you have some kind of mental health issue or are struggling with anything, it can be even something as simple as going through a breakup, or if you are really distressed you can come in and talk to someone. You don’t need to have a formal diagnosis, there is no criteria, you don’t need a referral, and everything is confidential unless we feel you are going to harm yourself.”
Mental health is a growing problem among students and youth. School can be stressful and leave students feeling tired, anxious and mentally or physically exhausted. According to the CMHA, one in seven youth in BC will experience some form of a mental health issue at some point, 50 to 70 per cent of them will experience it before the age of 18.
If you or someone you know is struggling or seems to be struggling, Foundry’s doors are always open to those who need help. Foundry could change how mental health issues are treated and perceived, and it’s easily accessible. Foundry provides support and healing to those in need, and hopes to lift the stigma commonly associated with mental health issues.
If you require immediate crisis assistance: Please dial 310-6789 (no area code is required) to connect to the B.C. mental health crisis line, which operates 24 hours a day. For medical emergencies call 9-1-1.