Date Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
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Right now, one in five Ontarians under the age of 18 are struggling with a mental health issue but unfortunately, only a fraction of children and youth who need mental health services receive them. Halton Healthcare Services Navigator Program, however, is closing the gap for children and youth that need immediate care and the Oakville Hospital Foundation is asking the community for their support.
The campaign to raise $1.25 million for the Navigator Program was launched yesterday, on World Mental Health Day, at a Dinner with Doctors event with guest speaker Dr. Alan Brown, Medical Director of the HHS Mental Health Program.
“At Halton Healthcare Services, we are committed to offering a continuum of care for children in need,” said Dr. Brown. “Our vision is to ensure “nothing is missing” for children and youth struggling with mental health issues. This is why we have launched the Navigator Program, to help children and their families navigate through the healthcare system.”
The introduction of navigators has transformed the way HHS is helping children and youth in our community. Because children referred to the program are in desperate need of help, navigators immediately connect with a client. There are no wait times.
Navigators offer hands-on support to children and families, connect them to appropriate services, and provide in-school support to children and their teachers. In the first 18 months of the program, two HHS navigators helped 78 kids get the support and services they needed.
“The kids we see feel stuck and believe this is going to be their life,” said Tina Heusser, one of two part-time navigators at HHS. “This is not a reflection of their ability. It is a reflection of the situation they are in.”
The early success of the program has meant a growing demand for services with limited access. Inadequate funding for our community has made Halton one of the most underfunded regions for mental health programs in Ontario. The Navigator Program currently receives zero government funding but thanks to the generosity of two private foundations, funding is within reach.
For every $1.00 donated to the Navigator Campaign, it will trigger an additional $2.50 dollars from two generous foundations, the Mental Wellness Network and a private family foundation. The goal is to raise $1.25 million by December 2013 from the Oakville community to sustain this much-needed program well into the future.
“Additional community funding is urgently needed to sustain this program,” said Tina Triano, CEO of the Oakville Hospital Foundation. “Donations from Oakville residents plus our two generous matching gifts will enable us to grow the Navigator Program and help more children in crisis.”
(Please note that CMHO staff does not reply to comments that are posted on news stories.)