The City of Courtenay is applying for funds to create a team that responds to mental health and substance use calls.
Councillor Doug Hillian sent a report to the Town of Comox council for its Wednesday meeting (June 7), encouraging the town to support Courtenay in requesting provincial money for a Peer Assisted Care Team in the Comox Valley.
A rise in drug poisoning, and social disorder and violence from individuals that could have been treated shows Courtenay needs help, according to the report prepared by the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness. Businesses and residents are expressing concerns, the report said, and Courtenay is facing behaviour that is “becoming difficult to respond to.”
Peer Assisted Care Teams are created to help with such issues. The teams act as first-responders to some mental health crises, aiming to de-escalate the persons involved, preventing public issues or the need for police. The teams focus on select situations, such as those that don’t pose a threat of physical violence.
Care teams, administered by the Canadian Mental Health Association, are made up of a mental health professional and a “peer,” which is someone who has lived experience with mental health or substance use issues.
The coalition’s report said Comox Valley would make good use of funding for the project, because the area has a strong network of support services available if funding is secured, and a community of peers with lived experience.
The report also said the estimated number of homeless in Comox Valley has grown to more than 300. That number has more than doubled since 2018, when counts estimated 117 homeless persons.
Winners of the grant funding will be announced in early summer by the Canadian Mental Health Association.