The Cloverdale Paint Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Stabilization Unit (CAPSU) is fulfilling its promise as a place where young people and their families can receive urgent hospital care during a mental health crisis.

After opening last year, the CAPSU team saw 385 children and youth from 22 communities in only the first 10 months. Most importantly, families who needed this specialized care could access it quickly, without being on a waitlist.

Families come from across Fraser Health, mostly through referrals from emergency departments. The youngest child helped was 7, and the average age 14.

Many need CAPSU because of serious mood disorders, such as severe depression or anxiety, explains Mike Kenyon, Manager, Child, Youth, & Young Adult Mental Health & Substance Use Services. Others may have a sudden onset or relapse of psychosis.

CAPSU stays are short, on average about five days, reflecting the unit’s role as an immediate resource.

“The most important part is the stabilization aspect of CAPSU. We provide relief from a crisis for the family as well as the child or youth – that’s the critical piece – and it can take three to four days for that crisis to decrease,” he says.

“The final part is making sure that there is a support network in the community, trying to determine who are their supports, do they have the right supports and what other supports do they need.”

Less than 20 per cent of youth (aged 12 to 17)) who were admitted to CAPSU required further treatment in the Surrey Memorial’s specialized Adolescent Psychiatric Unit (APU).

Thanks to you

Thanks to donations from the community, the CAPSU environment is designed to be a tranquil place to soothe families at a very stressful time in their lives.

In fact, it’s one the aspects of the unit that receives most feedback from parents – they like the fresh, calm décor that doesn’t feel like a hospital setting.

“If you are in a more peaceful and calm environment, it’s going to help with the stabilization piece. I believe that we are not just helping to stabilize the youth, we are helping to stabilize the family unit,” Kenyon says.

Once admitted, young people and families are surrounded by an expert team that includes nurses, psychiatrists, social workers, youth care counsellors, occupational therapists and support staff.

Community support is still critically important for CAPSU and the other specialized mental health programs on the Surrey Campus, explains Jane Adams, president & CEO of Surrey Hospital Foundation.

“We recognize that the transition to home can be difficult, so we are working with a partner to develop peer support groups in the community to help families post-discharge.”

The Foundation also funds therapeutic activities, such as art and music therapy, for young people in CAPSU or the APU.

Later this year, the power of community support will make CAPSU the first acute psychiatric unit in the province to have a FamilySmart™ Youth-in-Residence program, where young people who have experienced mental health issues of their own will be on hand to help support children and families.

Can you help?

When we help families receive the best mental health care, we change lives. Please help us to support programs that help young people and their families recover and stay well. Donate online today!