Homeless father and son
RECOVERY from mental illness is possible ... with safe and affordable housing and appropriate supports.

Affordable housing for the mentally ill

Since there is a shortage of affordable housing for the people with mental illness, the Government should expand the number of safe, affordable independent housing units in order make recovery possible.


The Federal Government should increase the funding for provincial governments and non-profit groups to provide housing for the mentally ill.

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Coast Mental Health – Realizing Potential

Coast Mental Health promotes recovery of persons with mental illness.

Coast improves the lives of people with a mental illness by providing practical and pragmatic help such as housing, jobs, community, rehabilitative social and recreational opportunities, food, clothing and basic life skills training.

Coast welcomes anyone with a mental illness to participate in their services and programs. We also welcome volunteers and financial supporters to help us do their job better.

Coast Mental Health



What is Mental Illness? It is thoughts, emotions, or behaviour that impair a person’s ability to think, feel or act effectively. Mental illness is not a developmental disability – it does not limit intelligence. Mental illness is a disease that affects the brain in various ways. It is a real disease like cancer, diabetes or heart disease. Many people still believe that people only get mentally ill because they are weak or bad. This isn’t true – if you have a mental illness you are sick. The most common mental illnesses are schizophrenia, major clinical depression, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive), anxiety disorders, and personality disorders. All of these illnesses can be treated with up to 80% of people realizing recovery and function. Unfortunately, some 75% of people with a mental illness never seek help because of a lack of knowledge, prejudice about mental illness, and shame.

How Many People Have a Mental Illness? Various studies show that one in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem at some point each year. Of the six million that experience mental illness, there are about one million people or three per cent who have a serious and persistent mental illness. Coast Mental Health promotes recovery in persons with a mental illness. We ascribe to the principles and practice of Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR), a philosophy of mental health community care that believes that, with individualized support and full client involvement in goal-setting and care, recovery from a mental illness is possible. We know that people with a mental illness… … have the pivotal role in their own recovery. … have the capacity to learn and grow. … should be shown respect and listened to. … can and do recover.

Coast Provides People With

  • Respect – clients participate in their recovery and are listened to.
  • A Reason to Get Up in the Morning – Coast helps people participate in programs and achieve goals.
  • Friendship with other people who have a mental illness.
  • Education about their mental illness.
  • Skills to manage and recover from their illness.
  • A home.
  • A job for pay or volunteer opportunities.
  • Assistance accessing needed medical, educational or financial services.

The Demand for Services

  • There are over 1,000 people in Vancouver on housing waiting list and over 3,700 people homeless.
  • According to a recent VCH report, 14,500 youth and 75,000 adults in Vancouver experience mental health issues.
  • Less than one third of mentally ill persons who are homeless receive treatment for their mental health problems.
  • In 2008 there was a 30% increase of patients with a mental illness entering local hospital emergency rooms: between 7 and 15 patients daily. 44% of those were discharged back to the street within a day.
  • It costs $55,000 a year to leave a homeless person on the street compared to only $37,000 a year to provide housing with support services. – CARMHA study and Calgary study
  • In the last eight years membership in the downtown Vancouver Coast Mental Health Resource Centre has grown from serving 50 people per day to serving more than 200 per day.

Service Overview

Coast Mental Health began serving individuals in the Greater Vancouver area in 1972. Today we provide supported housing to nearly 800 people, help hundreds find paid work and volunteer activities each year, and provide community services for people with a mental illness. By 2012, we will house over 1,100. Recovery from a mental illness is more than taking pills: we focus on maximizing each person’s ability to function in daily activities. Our programs include the following.

  1. Mental Health Resource Centre – 500 Active Members, 220 meals served daily The Centre in downtown Vancouver provides meals, laundry and shower facilities, social and recreational activities to more than 200 people daily. For many ill, often homeless, individuals, it is the first point of contact with mental health services. Members get help to obtain housing or disability benefits, connect to medical and dental care, access addiction recovery and wellness programs, and volunteer or paid work. The Resource Centre also houses a Homeless Outreach program serving approximately 60 people per month, and provides tenant support to the Doug Story building, which houses 44 people, and the St. Helen’s building, which houses a further 86 people with mental illness.
  2. Coast Clubhouse – 400 Members, 80 Meals Served Daily, 80 Jobs Weekly Provides meals and volunteer and employment opportunities in a safe, friendly environment. Members can work in one of several training (Environmental, Food Service or Communications) units to earn addition income, learn on-the-job skills, and gain work references for their resumes. Once they have built key skills working on the Clubhouse site, they can work short-term paid positions in the community.
  1. Community Homes

  • 12 Houses, Over 120 Housed in Vancouver and Burnaby Coast has licensed-care community homes that provide 24-hour staffing in a home-like atmosphere for individuals who are unable to live independently. Residents develop lifeskills in a supportive environment where independence and self-reliance are promoted, and participate in making decisions about home routines and activities. Staff provide counseling, lifeskills coaching, medication administration and crisis management.
  • Supported Housing – 650 Housed Coast pioneered the development of supported housing because one of the greatest needs of people with a mental illness is safe, secure and affordable housing with appropriate support. All our programs have subsidized or income-rated rent; self-contained suites; help from mental health workers; and links to healthcare, addiction services and other community supports.
  • Coast Cottages – 50 Housed Provides 24-hour care to people with a mental illness who have had involvement with the justice system but have been found not guilty or responsible due to a mental illness. Each person’s potential and level of independence are maximized to equip them to transition safely into the community and minimize their risk of re-offending. (over) Coast Mental Health. Realizing Potential.
  • At Home/Chez Soi – 100 Housed by 2011 Coast is working with The Mental Health Commission of Canada on a ground-breaking national research project in five cities to find the best way to provide housing and services to people who are living with mental illness and homelessness. In Vancouver, Coast, using a ‘Housing First’ approach focuses on first providing people who are homeless a place to live, and then other assistance and services they require. Coast provides supports for 100 people in Vancouver using an intensive case management model with a ratio of 20 clients to one staff person.
  • Coast Transitional Housing – 44 Housed This program is designed to assist young men and women with co-occurring issues in the areas of mental health, substance use, physical health, and behavior to learn skills to transition to living in the community. This program will include ongoing support and assessment, crisis intervention, lifeskills building, drug and alcohol counseling, coordinated psychiatric and medical treatment, resource coordination and advocacy, peer-run services and other programs needed for each individual. The Men’s program will serve 22 individuals by May 2010 and the Dreamweaver Residence Women’s program serves 22.
  • PACT Employment Services – 160+ Served Annually Offers employment search help for individuals with a mental illness who are seeking competitive employment. Includes personalized employment counseling, career exploration and testing, assistance with training funding, job search skills, and post-placement support. Members access computers with high-speed Internet, fax, photocopier, phones and answering service.
  • Coast Social Enterprises – 20 Employed Landscaping with Heart specializes in professional landscaping construction, garden design and planting, and lawn and garden maintenance for residential and commercial customers. Sewing with Heart produces a variety of quality tote, lunch, wine and yoga bags. These businesses provide income, work opportunities and skill development for people recovering from a mental illness.
  • Financial Trust Program – 350+ Served Managing over $12M in assets for Persons with Disability (PWD) status in BC. Individuals who receive a lump sum of money, or their families, can place the assets in a trust that allows the PWD to keep their payments and benefits without penalty, and use the funds to enhance their health and independence.

The Courage To Come Back Awards

Coast is the proud presenter of the annual Courage To Come Back Awards that recognize six outstanding British Columbians for their courage and perseverance in the face of illness, injury or adversity. Each year, one recipient is selected in each of these categories: Addiction, Medical, Mental Health, Physical Rehabilitation, Social Adversity and Youth. Panels of volunteers read through and shortlist the hundreds of nominations received, and a Final Selection volunteer panel chooses the recipients. Recipient stories are told on Global BC Television, in The Province newspaper, on News1130 radio and on Coast’s website. The season culminates in a gala event honouring the recipients in front of their families, friends and nearly 1,000 special guests. To nominate someone who inspires you, or to purchase a ticket to the gala, go to

Coast Mental Health

293 East 11th Avenue

Vancouver, BC V5T 2C4

T: 604-872-3502

F: 604-879-2363