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Breaking down barriers to access for mental health programs


They're mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. Children, grandparents, students and professionals. Mental illness has many faces—often, someone struggling with mental illness is someone in our close circle of friends, our community, our schools, and our workplaces—and can be someone we may not even know is going through a hard time.

October 6 to 12 is Mental Illness Awareness week—a national campaign aimed to help Canadians open their eyes to the reality of mental illness. In communities across Vancouver Coastal Health, we know there is a need to provide mental health and substance use programs and services for people of all ages where and when they need it. But sometimes, trying to figure out where to go or who to talk to can be challenging.

That's why this week, Richmond's Mental Health and Substance Use team is launching a new phone number to help get Richmond residents connected to our programs and services. The phone number launch also kicks off a marketing campaign to help raise awareness within the community of this new service—working to remove barriers to access for those looking for support.

All ages, one n​umber.

Starting today, anyone of any age can call 604.204.1111 and be connected with our teams that support children, youth, adults, and older adults in Richmond. Working with experts from a spectrum of mental health and substance use programs, as well as advisors from their Parent and Family Advisory Committee, a phone tree was developed with both options in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese, to direct callers to the appropriate program or service and help them get the help they need.

“We really wanted to ensure that this new phone number and campaign resonated with people in our community," says Integration and Access Lead, Claire Pitcher. “We worked very closely with our Parent and Family Advisory Committee on everything from the messaging on the phone tree to the campaign posters to ensure the language, visuals, and messaging resonated with them and their lived experience with mental illness."

The public can also visit our website at to find a revamped landing page where they can read more about the programs and services we offer.

“At the end of the day, we want to reduce the barriers to those seeking support to find the help and information they need," says Karen Barclay, director Mental Health and Substance Use, Spiritual Care, and Community Geriatrics. “This new streamlined approach will help us ensure the appropriate services are available at the appropriate time for those who need it."

More infor​mation

For more information on the VCH-Richmond Mental Health and Substance Use team and the programs and services available visit our website at or call 604.204.1111.


SOURCE: Breaking down barriers to access for mental health programs ( )
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