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Roots of Hope Case Studies – Spotlight on Sooke-West Shore, British Columbia

THE SOOKE EARLY ADOPTER COMMUNITY

The Sooke-West Shore region of Vancouver Island includes a collection of municipalities just outside Victoria. Being a bit more affordable than Victoria proper, it often attracts young families and others who are seeking a lower cost of living. As such, the population in this region is rising rapidly. Langford, for example, is the fastest growing municipality in B.C. and the third fastest in Canada.

Unfortunately, the service infrastructure in Sooke-West Shore is not yet keeping pace with the demand for mental health and substance use services. Alongside rapid population growth, the challenges of COVID-19 have reduced the community’s capacity to respond to mental health concerns, including disclosures about thoughts of suicide. Service providers, community members, and people with lived and living experience (PWLLE) report that stigma around suicide is highly prevalent in the community, with many people not knowing how to respond when someone discloses thoughts of suicide.

For these reasons, the B.C. division of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA BC) chose to work with the community to implement the Roots of Hope model. At the outset CMHA BC brought together an interdisciplinary team of more than 50 individuals living and/or working in the region. This included representatives from non-profit organizations, government services, the school district, local first responders, and community members who identify as PWLLE. The project began with a community needs assessment, followed by a community-led action plan, which it is now focused on implementing.

COMMUNITY IMPACT

  1. The CoP has led to improved connections between service providers, including multiple conversations where service barriers have been resolved. For example, two agencies were having issues due to a logistical difficulty. After both of them sent staff to the CoP, they were able to discuss this concern in real time and come up with a workaround. The support group also helped us create a new suicide postvention service in Sooke-West Shore. Despite the fact that many suicide deaths in the Victoria area occur in the area, there were still postvention resources. As a result, bereaved families were simply not accessing services. Now, these are well attended and well appreciated by area residents who have lost a loved one to suicide.
  2. Through our many training opportunities (ASIST, safeTALK, Mental Health First Aid, Mindset, Face2Face with Stigma), we have been able to disseminate knowledge to our community. Post-workshop feedback surveys suggest that participants feel better equipped to support people with thoughts of suicide (and/or other mental health challenges) after taking these workshops. We’ve also anecdotally heard from participants about how they’ve used the skills they learned to improve client outcomes at work.

Read all Roots of Hope Case Studies

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