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Posted: May 10, 2021

App transforms access to services for youth and caregivers

Youth and their caregivers around British Columbia now have faster, easier access to mental health and substance use services and supports through the new Foundry BC app.

Co-created by youth for youth, the Foundry BC app offers young people aged 12 to 24 and their caregivers access to integrated health and wellness services through their mobile device or an online web portal.

Services offered through the app and web portal include drop-in and scheduled counselling, primary care, peer support and group sessions.

“Our young people were dealing with immense pressures even before the pandemic, but COVID-19 has amplified the stress on their mental health, including increasing anxiety, depression and substance use,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “I’m grateful that we are removing more barriers to create faster and easier access to the help youth need. Regardless of where they are in B.C., young people will be able to use the Foundry BC app or web portal to connect to the caring and qualified staff that Foundry centres are known for.”

At a time when in-person services have been reduced due to COVID-19 safety measures, the Foundry BC app and web portal will allow young people and their caregivers to schedule virtual appointments in advance, access same-day support through messaging, audio or video sessions, join group sessions with peers, and access web-based tools and resources.

As with all Foundry services, no referrals are required, and services are free and confidential. For youth and caregivers who have limited or no access to the internet, Foundry’s province-wide virtual services team also provides support by phone at 1-833 FOUNDRY (1 833 308-6379).

The Foundry app will continue to evolve over the coming year to offer additional services, including new features such as wellness goal setting, medication tracking, employment supports and a “circle of care” program where youth can allow service providers and their caregivers to collaborate online.

“Foundry envisions all young people in B.C. having the supports they need to live a good life. The Foundry BC app, designed alongside youth, will make Foundry services easier to find and simpler to access from anywhere. We are grateful to the members of our youth advisory committee, the Province of B.C. and FreshWorks for coming together with our team to make the Foundry BC app possible. Especially now, as young people navigate the many challenges of COVID-19, this is an important investment in the future of this province,” said Steve Mathias, executive director of Foundry.

Sydney Spenst, youth advisor, Foundry Virtual BC added: “When I heard what Foundry was planning, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. I was so excited to have the chance to use my experiences with mental health for something positive. Now, almost two years later, working on this project has felt like such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. My favourite part of this process has been seeing some of my ideas come to life. When we looked at the first draft of the app, it was exhilarating to see my input taking shape.”

Christine Harris, family peer supporter with Foundry Virtual BC noted, “As a family peer supporter, I stand beside and support families and caregivers on their journey to help their loved one with whatever they are going through, without judgment. As a parent, I wish I had a service like Foundry Virtual BC when my son was a youth living with substance use issues.”

“There is nothing more pressing than ensuring children and youth throughout B.C. receive the supports they need to have the greatest chance for success and happiness,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. “The virtual services offered by the Foundry – accessible through this app, made by and for youth – will play a key role, matching young people with early interventions to help them overcome challenges and get back on the road to wellness.”

The Foundry app and its virtual supports and services broaden Foundry BC’s reach and complement in-person services currently offered through a network of 11 centres throughout the province in Abbotsford, Campbell River, Kelowna, Richmond, Ridge Meadows, Terrace, Victoria, Penticton, Prince George and two locations in Vancouver (Granville and the North Shore).

Work is underway to expand the Foundry model to 19 centres province-wide, including in Cranbrook.

The provincial government has provided approximately $1.6 million to support the Foundry’s virtual services, including the development of the Foundry app.

The Foundry BC app is available for download through the Apple Store and Google Play store.

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