The provincial government is taking steps to help those under the age of 19 experiencing severe problematic substance use.

Today, B.C announced some changes to the Mental Health Act that is aimed at supporting the care and observation of youth while recovering from an overdose.

The changes state that those suffering from severe drug problems who are admitted to a hospital following an overdose can be admitted to stabilization care.

That care would last up to 48 hours or until their decision-making capacity is restored, for a maximum of seven days. 

The province says this short-term emergency care will be provided at hospitals throughout the province where a designated psychiatric unit or observation unit exists. 

Following the stabilization care, that youth will then be connected to supports and services in their local community.

Based on the expert advice of the BC Children’s Hospital and other renowned child and youth advocates, the changes will enable hospitals to keep youth safe immediately following an overdose.

“This is a new and much-needed tool in our toolbox to help youth with severe substance use challenges and their families,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. 

“Experts are telling us this emergency measure is vital to ensure the immediate safety of young people in crisis. We are taking that advice and we are enabling hospitals to extend the care they are most vulnerable and ensuring they are connected with community-based services so they can continue to receive support closer to home.”

To learn more about the changes to the Mental Health Act, visit the Government of British Columbia’s website.