Children’s Mental Health Ontario Calling on Province to Increase Funding for Services for Children, Youth
(TORONTO/OTTAWA – Nov. 29, 2016) Children and youth in urgent need of mental healthcare are waiting up to 1.5 years for treatment in some parts of the province, according to new data collected by Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO). The amount of children and youth on wait lists for Children’s Mental Health Ontario Centres is also on the rise with nearly 12,000 kids waiting for long-term psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy or intensive treatment for those with severe mental illness and who are in dire need of support.
Ontario has turned its back on children and youth in desperate need of mental health services. Unacceptable wait times and insufficient access to mental health professionals have created a crisis,” said Kim Moran, CEO of CMHO. “Many families are struggling tremendously because of this lack of access to care. We can’t let this continue any further – our children deserve better.”
To determine wait times across the province, CMHO recently conducted a survey focusing on wait times for the two most in-demand services (long-term counseling and intensive therapy) of its more than 85 accredited community Children’s Mental Health Centres with a nearly 50 per cent response rate. The results show a disturbing trend in Ontario where children and youth (some as young as six years old) with serious mental illnesses, are waiting anywhere from three months to one and a half years for care.
Results from the CMHO survey are being shared in advance of the annual report of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario scheduled for release Wednesday. The Auditor General’s report will looks at wait times for children needing mental healthcare and whether funding to agencies is commensurate with the services provided among other metrics.
The results of that report are expected to be similar to the CMHO findings. Below is a breakdown of the CMHO findings:
- In Eastern Ontario, kids wait anywhere from two weeks to two years for counselling and therapy, and in some cases longer for intensive treatment. Service providers in Ottawa are seeing the highest wait times in the region.
- In Central Ontario, kids can wait anywhere from two months to 15 months for care. Service providers in York, Simcoe & Halton are seeing the highest wait times in the region.
- In Northern Ontario wait times for intensive treatment have exceeded one year
- In Toronto, some of the largest mental health centres servicing large numbers of clients, have wait lists of almost a year
- In Western Ontario, some centres are reporting wait times of up to seven months.
Currently, more than 120,000 children and youth across Ontario are being treated for mental illness. "These are just the ones who were brave enough or fortunate enough to find treatment,” said Moran. “Thousands more young people are on wait lists. Some don’t make it to treatment at all because they simply give up waiting, or worse.”
CMHO and its member agencies are calling on the province to set a maximum wait time of 30 days while increasing funding to mental health services for children and youth. “This investment is urgently needed to give young people and their families a fighting chance – in some cases, just to survive. Too many children die by suicide and too many children and families suffer silently,” said Moran. “It is time to take action.”
Investing in children and youth mental health is an investment in Ontario’s future. It costs less than $5 per year per Ontarian and saves $145 million in hospital costs. When kids are treated on time, with the right resources, they can grow up mentally healthy.
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