Written by Karen Tee, Project Leader, Mental Health and Substance Use

A state-of-the-art inpatient unit for children and adolescents with urgent mental health issues will open on May 29 at Surrey Memorial Hospital.

The Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Stabilization Unit (CAPSU), a first for Fraser Health and the largest unit of its kind in B.C., will support children and youth from across Fraser Health, aged six to 17, who are in acute mental health crisis with psychiatric issues such as depression, psychosis or severe behavioral disorders.

Children and youth in crisis will continue to go to the closest Emergency Department. They must be medically-assessed in an Emergency Department prior to being transferred to the unit. The specialized health care team of psychiatrists, nurses, youth care counselors, social workers, occupational therapists and a clinical pharmacy specialist will provide intensive short-stay assessment and crisis stabilization. Parents-in-Residence and administrative clerks will also be part of the support team.

Fraser Health resident, Karen Copeland, knows well the challenges faced by parents trying to find appropriate treatment for their children struggling with a mental health crisis, as her young son and her family have needed that support. Her past experience with another health region’s specialized child and adolescent team has her excited about the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Stabilization Unit opening, and having that resource closer to home.

“When your family is in crisis, it is hard to navigate and cope with all the emotions and uncertainty of what the future might hold. You almost feel helpless in these moments, like you will be stuck there for a long time,” Karen said.

“The specialized team that supported our son and family helped alleviate some of that uncertainty. It was reassuring to know that professionals who had specific training with children who experience mental health challenges were able to observe and support our son and family during our stay. They gave us tools that we could use going forward not only to support our son, but also tools to promote our own self-care as parents".

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