People end up experiencing homelessness for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons are because of mental illness, addition, abuse, or a combination of the three.
For people that have stable housing and a support system in place, accessing mental health services can be a challenge. For people in unstable situations, it can be next to impossible.
The number of people experiencing homelessness is growing in Langley (as well as in the rest of Metro Vancouver.) It would be unreasonable to expect someone who is experiencing homelessness combined mental illness to reach out for help. We have to come to them.
One of the innovative programs to get people help is Assertive Community Treatment, or ACT. The following video explains what it is all about.
- Finding housing
- Accessing medical care
- Substance use counselling and/or access to treatment
- Life skills support/skill building
- Medication administration
- Grocery shopping with staff
- Social and recreational events
- Employment opportunities
- Connecting clients to community resources
- Transport clients to appointments
- Supporting and encouraging: healthy lifestyle choices, personal hygiene, short and long-term goal setting and money management
- Connecting to income assistance service
Currently there are ACT teams in Surrey and Abbotsford, but there is no team in Langley. Given the increase in people experiencing homelessness in Langley, it may be time for the provincial government to fund an ACT team in Langley.
While not everyone camping in parks or sleeping on the streets has a mental illness, getting people with mental illness the help they need is a critical step to reducing the number of people experiencing homelessness in our community.