Where did the journey begin?

Based on a model used worldwide as a method of rapid continuous quality improvement in health care, the Child & Youth Mental Health & Substance Use (CYMHSU) Collaborative was introduced in the Interior Health region of British Columbia in June 2013 with eight Local Action Teams. 

The Shuswap Local Action team (LAT) with the support of the Shuswap North Okanagan (SNO) Division of Family Practice was one of the eight founding action teams.

Until it completed on Dec. 31, 2018, the Shuswap Local Action Team was comprised of various engaged stakeholders, including School District 83, Interior Health, Child & Youth Mental Health (MCFD), Shuswap Children’s Association, Shuswap Family Resource Centre, SAFE Society, CMHA, RCMP, Salmon Arm physician Richard Currie, as well as parents and youth, with lived experience.

Planting the seeds

The seed for the SAS Wellness Centre was planted when Wellness Centre Co-ordinator Monica Kriese, who has lived experience (a parent of a youth with mental health challenges), attended the 17th Canadian Collaborative Mental Health Care Conference in Kelowna in June 2016. At the Conference, she took in a workshop about a school-based wellness centre is Nanaimo.

Dr. Sheila Findlay, chair of the Nanaimo Division of Family Practice, co-director of the John Barsby Community School’s Wellness Centre and one of eight doctors who provide family practice services to the centre, described the successful team-based program.

“Students are welcomed to a warm environment with couches, music, and a basket of free apples – a different experience from a typical doctor’s office.  They can make their own appointments, are assured of confidentiality and get to choose how their information is shared.”

Ensuing discussions with local action team members, then SAS Vice-Principal Pam Chudiak, Dr. Currie and other partners, gained resounding interest and support for the Shuswap LAT to consider a Youth Wellness Centre to be located at the SAS Sullivan campus and possibly future centres at Eagle River Secondary and or Armstrong’s AL Fortune at a future date.

The story continues….