This week, the three high schools in the Sooke School District began offering health care services to students right on the premises.
While each of these centres provide different services, dealing with sexual or mental health concerns to general care, the doors are open to all West Shore and Sooke youth, regardless of what school they may attend.
While we appreciate the steps being taken to address the severe lack of such fundamental services on the West Shore, we fear these centres will fall short of their hoped-for goals due to the bureaucracy involved in operating such a facility. That problem is only complicated by the fact the centres at Royal Bay and Edward Milne secondaries aren’t in spaces originally designated for such uses and may not offer some students the privacy they require.
While it will be just a short walk down the hall in the three high schools, we question whether accessing those services will be that easy. With roughly 1,250 students attending Belmont, a little more than 900 at Royal Bay and just under 700 at Edward Milne, not to mention the middle school students who might use the services, it’s a community resource that will no doubt be stretched to the limit. We wonder if only a few hours a week, specifically at Royal Bay and Edward Milne, will be enough to make a real dent. Especially since the need for mental health treatment is finally gaining some recognition and more students are accessing services they wouldn’t necessarily have in the past.
The West Shore is the fastest-growing area in the region and some experts warn that health care services are not growing to accommodate the new demand.
While these wellness centres are a step toward helping alleviate some of that strain, more needs to be done to make sure some of our most vulnerable residents are not falling through the cracks.