(Westshore Urgent Primary Care Centre building at 582 Goldstream Ave/Google)

This year, Island Health has opened a brand new mental health and substance use clinic for the West Shore.

Those requiring specialized services for mental health and substance use can be referred to the new Central Access and Rapid Engagement Services (CARES) Clinic in Langford.

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CARES operates as a referrals-only facility that now provides patients in West Shore a closer alternative, rather than them having to visit clinics in Victoria.

“Faster and easier access to team-based health-care supports can make all the difference to people facing mental health and substance use challenges and this is a great example of the work we are doing throughout B.C. to improve access to care,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.

“The CARES clinic will work in partnership family physicians and nurse practitioners to strengthen mental health supports in the region and provide the team-based care that will help people in the Westshore get the help and compassionate care they need.”

Cheryl Bloxham of Island Health confirmed to Victoria Buzz that CARES is not a supervised consumption site.

Rather, the clinic employs a team of social workers, mental health and substance use clinicians, and health consultants who provide assessments and short-term counselling, and connect patients with other Island Health groups and supports when needed.

It also offers individual and group counselling sessions for people struggling with depression, substance use and/or anxiety.

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Since opening in mid-February, CARES has had 265 patient visits, 150 of which were for group counselling and 20 for individual counselling.

Once referred to the clinic by a primary care provider, appointments at CARES are made based on urgency. While some patients are granted same-day access, others may have to wait one or two business days before securing an appointment.

It is located above the Westshore Urgent Primary Care Centre at 582 Goldstream Avenue, and is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, until 8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and closed on Sunday.