More options available for people needing same day mental health and addiction supports

People on the South Island experiencing a mental health or substance use issue that does not require a hospital visit can now access a same-day assessment appointment and/or walk-in counselling at Island Health’s Central Access and Rapid Engagement Services (CARES) in Victoria. People experiencing a mental health crisis or emergency should always call 9-1-1 or visit the nearest emergency department immediately.

“When people reach out for help, they need to find support quickly and easily,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Without timely access to care, many people struggling with mental health and addiction challenges can feel unsupported or decide against seeking treatment. This new service in Victoria eliminates wait times by providing same-day access to dedicated mental health professionals. This ensures compassionate care is available right when it’s needed most.”

Island Health’s Victoria CARES office is located at 1119 Pembroke Street and can be accessed by either calling 250-519-3485 to book an appointment or by walking-in during operating hours, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Clients are seen by trained and skilled mental health and substance use clinicians who provide a goal-oriented counselling session with therapeutic supports. Based on clients’ needs, they may be booked for a follow-up appointment for detailed intake screening and assessment to determine the most appropriate mental health or substance use service. When appropriate, clients will also be referred to other community services and supports, so they can easily get connected to the care they need, when they need it.

Same day access is most appropriate for clients experiencing a moderate mental health condition who are seeking timely access to assessment and counselling. Based on data from other communities, most clients seek care for conditions such as anxiety and depression. 

“Many people who seek care at Royal Jubilee Hospital’s Psychiatric Emergency Services Department can be better served through this new walk-in mental health service,” said Tasha Mckelvey, Island Health Director, Mental Health and Substance Use. “Our goal is to quickly and efficiently provide or connect people with the supports they need to improve their health and wellness, learn skills to manage their health condition, and better understand the supports and resources available in the community.”

Improvements were made to the CARES Victoria location to accommodate the new same-day service, and additional clinical and peer support roles have been put in place to support service demands. The same-day service offers both in-person and virtual counselling sessions.

The CARES same-day service aligns with similar walk-in services available at Island Health Mental Health and Substance Use offices across Vancouver Island. Locations and hours are available at: Adult Mental Health & Substance Use Services.

People experiencing a more severe mental health and/or substance use emergency or crisis should always dial 9-1-1 or visit their nearest emergency department. Crisis services are also available:

  • Call the Vancouver Island Crisis Line at 1-888-494-3888 to access 24-hour crisis support 
  • Text the Vancouver Island Crisis line at 250-800-3806 from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm nightly 
  • Call or text the Community-Led Crisis Response Team Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 12:30 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. - 9 p.m. at 250-818-2454
  • Online chat crisis service from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm nightly via 
  • Call BC211 at 2-1-1 to reach an information specialist 24 hours a day, or visit 
  • Dial 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency department. 
  • Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) to get help right away, any time 
  • Call KUU-US Crisis line at 1-800-588-8717 to access 24-hour Indigenous specific crisis support 

For information or help navigating Mental Health and Substance Use services, call Island Health’s Service Link at 1-888-885-8824. This line is answered by a call taker every day of the week. As this is not an emergency or crisis service, callers who leave a message will be contacted the same day or next day.