Mental health services expand at health centre

Team focuses on confidentiality and support

Laura Bantock and Pamela Deo in the Health Center. Photo SPIN

Sun Peaks residents now have easier access to mental health services in the community.

In just over a year of operating the Sun Peaks Health Centre has partnered with other resources in the area to provide patients with more comprehensive health care.

Health centre executive director Laura Bantock said it was her initiative to start the key part of the program which has a mental health worker operating in the clinic weekly.

The worker, registered nurse Pamela Deo, who works with intake and crisis response for Interior Health, has seen patients in the clinic each Wednesday since starting in October of 2018.  

Bantock said a significant amount of their patients were looking for mental health services and that type of care is an important part of overall patient health.

“As a community health centre it’s our responsibility to be nimble in how we provide for our patients,” she said.

She said over her career she’s seen mental health needs go from something that wasn’t discussed to something spoken of more openly and the increased awareness of mental health issues makes it easier to dovetail with other services.

Deo now sees patients in the clinic or their homes, providing important services such as crisis response, addictions assistance, suicide risk assesment, referring for grief counselling, housing refferals, elderly services, solution based therapy and more.

“What I do myself is I follow a person until I know they’re safe,” Deo said. “One thing we screen for is people being safe. If someone needed to go to the hospital we can get them there…it takes away so much stress, people feel heard. It really does alleviate suffering, there are a lot of people suffering alone.”

She added a lot of her work at Sun Peaks revolves around helping those with depression or anxiety. Operating out of a regular clinic rather than a mental health clinic, she said, makes it easier and more approachable for patients.

They said they understood how difficult it can be to reach out for help, especially in a small community.

“Our confidentiality is our guiding principle,” Bantock elaborated. “We couldn’t take it more seriously than we do…We don’t want people suffering in silence when they can see one of our doctors and mention it and be assessed.”

“It’s all part of a really great team,” Deo said. “It’s a big teamwork effort. I work with physicians here and in Kamloops and the giant Interior Health umbrella so (patients) can access any of those services if they need.”

“It’s a team,” Bantock agreed. “We care, we want positive outcomes. Because we have Pamela and this wonderful clinic and this team we can provide total care within the community that’s gold standard.”

Bantock said anyone interested in more information or accessing services just has to make one call.

“We take it really seriously when somebody calls,” Bantock said. “They can call the desk or ask to speak to a nurse and get a nurse to phone you back. The community can be assured of confidentiality. Don’t be afraid to call, so many people are but there’s no judgement in it. It’s a safe space.”