This morning, the Joseph and Rosalie Segal and Family Health Centre opened its doors to media for a preview of a long-awaited facility that will provide a nurturing environment for those in need of mental health or substance use services, as well as their families. The facility was made possible with a generous $12M gift from philanthropists Joseph and Rosalie Segal, combined with $13 million from VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation and $57 million from the provincial government.

With 100 private rooms, each with their own washroom, the Joseph & Rosalie Segal & Family Health Centre will be the largest purpose-built facility of its kind in the province for people with mental health and substance use issues.

“Mental Health problems are far more prevalent than most of us realize,” said Joseph Segal. “The cure is not easy. Compassion and understanding is so vital in the cure. I believe that this building that we are dedicating, will be a step to understanding tolerance and cure.”

Help destigmatization

Thea Gilks says she wishes this facility was around when her brother committed suicide close to four years ago.

“I think this new building sends the strong message that mental illness is something we need to pay attention to, treat seriously and put adequate funding into,” she says. “I’m excited they’re opening a modern facility that will offer so much to people who need it.”

She hopes that this building will represent a cultural shift towards greater acceptance of those with mental illness.

“Trevor had so much shame about the things he struggled with,” she says. “This shame prevented him from seeking help and made his life so unbearable. I hope this building might help people to know that it’s ok to talk about these things.”

The future of mental health care

The eight-storey building will consolidate inpatient and outpatient services under one roof to provide clients with the treatment, programs and skills they need to successfully resume life in the community. It will replace outdated facilities such as the former VGH Willow Chest Centre (circa 1948) and Health Centre at Vancouver General Hospital (circa 1943). It is also the future home for Vancouver Coastal Health’s Access and Assessment Centre, which opened in April 2016 in the Vancouver General Hospital Health Centre and will be moved when the Joseph & Rosalie Segal & Family Health Centre is open.

“This new facility is vitally important to mental health patients and their families,” says VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation president and CEO Barbara Grantham. “We are grateful for the commitment from the provincial government and for the contributions from our donors.”