When Yvana Avram began experiencing suicidal thoughts in high school, she knew something was wrong. “It wasn’t normal, I was feeling really low and sad,” she says. Yvana went with her gut, sought help, and is now a peer support worker at Foundry North Shore, an integrated centre for young people age 12 to 24 that recently opened in North Vancouver. Foundry North Shore brings more than 15 existing programs and services under one roof so families and young people like Yvana can access primary care, mental health and social services.
“The opening of Foundry North Shore is a beacon of hope for our young people,” says Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “If we can address mental health and addiction issues earlier on in life, we can save lives. I know that bringing all these services under one roof will help young people get help when they need it, no matter what brings them through the door.”
“We want to empower young people to lead healthy lives by providing easy access to the tools, resources and skills they need to achieve wellness,” says Pamela Liversidge, Director of Policy and Partnerships at Foundry. “Foundry helps bridge gaps and remove barriers in systems by bringing services and service providers together under one roof, so young people and their families can access the support they need, when they need it—and not have to re-tell their story over and over.”
Foundry North Shore is comprised of a team of general practitioners, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, mental health and substance use clinicians, and youth and family peer-support and navigation workers. Income assistance, housing and employment services are also available on site at 211 West 1st Street in North Vancouver.
Later this year, young people with substance use issues will be able to access opioid agonist therapy (Suboxone). Other treatment and harm reduction services are also available at Foundry North Shore.
“The low-barrier nature of this centre means youth can drop in, have a chat and perhaps come back when they are more motivated,” says Dr. Jordan Cohen, a VCH psychiatrist working at Foundry. “Just walking in the door is a brave step.”
“By offering welcoming one-stop shops with a variety of wellness services, we want to remove the stigma of seeking help and reach young people early on – before small problems become big ones,” says Dr. Steve Mathias, Executive Director, Foundry.
“Youth in crisis don’t have time to make appointments and wait for referrals,” says Yvana. “I would encourage young people who feel like something is wrong to get help.” Trust yourself, she says; “Your life is worth it.”
Hosted by Providence Health Care, Foundry is supported by the Government of British Columbia, Graham Boeckh Foundation, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and St. Paul’s Foundation.
“Foundry North Shore is part of a growing provincial network of integrated youth service-centres,” says Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “By providing our young people with the wellness tools they need to thrive, we are making an important investment in our future.”
To see more photos of the centre and learn about the services offered visit their webpage here.