The Comox Valley Regional District board has approved a three-year funding agreement for the continued development and progress of the Comox Valley Community Health Network. Island Health will provide $240,000 for its next term from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2024.
The network partners with various organizations that are undertaking projects for the betterment of the community.
Noting the issue of men’s health, Area C director Edwin Grieve expressed concern about the lack of men in the network, and about the ramifications of the inability to reach out to men. He said new statistics reveal that men — who tend not to discuss thoughts and feelings with friends or partners — are largely the victims of opioid overdoses and suicides.
“We see now where 90 per cent of all assaults, and almost all sexual assaults, are perpetrated by men,” Grieve said at the March 30 board meeting. “I know this is a tough question.”
Island Health says there are programs designed for men, but Grieve says no one uses them.
“I think we’re at a junction where we need to re-think how we stem this at the source,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy. I do think there must be comparatives out there in the world today that are successful, but just the fact that there’s lack of any representation is very troubling.”
Area B director Arzeena Hamir, the CVRD representative with the Health Network, hopes to see a greater number of men on the co-ordinating committee. She notes that facilitator Lindsay McGinn is looking into the issue.
Courtenay director Doug Hillian has reached out to local men’s health providers, who have expressed interest in a shared conversation about men’s health. Hillian hopes he and Grieve can co-facilitate the conversation.
“I think there are opportunities to bring more awareness and to generate more support,” Hillian said. “There’s some people doing some really good work in our community. I think they need some additional support and resources to continue that work, that we could make a dent in things like the opioid crisis.”
Courtenay director Wendy Morin said the Community Drug Strategy, which falls under the umbrella of the Health Network, has representation from men with lived experience.