Written By Kim Moran

 For the full blog, click  HERE to view on Huffington Post

#BellLetstalk has helped lift a veil on mental health knowledge and done a lot to reduce stigma, and I think we, as a society, better understand that mental illness impacts us all. But did you know that 70 per cent of adult mental illnesses begin in childhood? And, by the time people reach 40 years of age, one in two Canadians will have had or had a mental illness?

#BellLetstalk is important for many of us affected by mental health – it’s a day that finally gives us all a safe space to share our experiences publicly, without shame. It also raises money for community mental health grants. The success of #BellLetstalk is tremendous. Last year alone, more than 130 million online interactions took place. But with such high volumes on one day, even I, someone who works in mental health care, can find it overwhelming to follow. While the volume of conversation is incredible, I do worry we are not paying enough attention to some of the most vulnerable members of our communities who face mental health issues: children. Indigenous, LGBTQ, low-income and black youth are especially vulnerable.

That’s why I am asking you to help children and youth with mental health issues by including them in your conversations this year on #BellLetstalk Day.


Hospitals are also impacted. Many children and youth are forced in desperation and crisis to seek mental health treatment at hospital emergency rooms. Since 2006-07, there has been a 63 per cent increase in emergency department visits and a 67 per cent increase in hospitalizations for Ontario children and youth with mental health issues. Nationally, the rates echo the sharp increase with a 56 per cent increase in emergency department visits and 47 per cent in hospitalization.

Elyse Schipper, Executive Director of Parents Lifelines of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa recently presented to a group of Ontario MPPs to explain the crisis and need for further help.

 When we hear about a child in our community who has died by suicide, as service providers we are rocked with grief and frustration. Because we know that this death didn’t come out of nowhere – that there were so many opportunities along the way, over years, to intervene for a better outcome. That the parents of this child, like so many who call us, have found only closed doors. Have been sent home from Hospital Emergency with a child deemed not quite high enough risk, to lock up all the knives, the ropes, the pills, and to sleep outside their child’s room lest he wake up in the middle of the night and decide he can’t take it anymore.

There are solutions. #BellLetstalk has provided grants totaling more than $100,000 for innovative and cost-effective mental health programs for Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) service providers to deliver suicide prevention first aid training for youth, provide walk-in mental health clinics in rural communities and extend service hours to provide evening support, for example. And, parent groups, CMHO and youth themselves are urging the government of Ontario to invest $120M additional funds annually to meet the increasing demand and shortage of mental health and addiction services for both children and youth.

With these additional funds, we can:

  • Ensure that no child or youth waits more than 30 days for mental health and addictions treatment
  • Expand specialized youth mental health and addictions centres to ensure that children and youth get the treatment they need
  • Hire and retain the highest skilled staff caring for our most vulnerable children
  • Develop quality standards to deliver the best mental health and addictions services

This #BellLetstalk Day I hope everyone will raise their voice for children’s mental health. For those in Ontario, you can also join me, CMHO, parents and youth in sending Premier Kathleen Wynne a message to let her know that our #kidscantwait. For others across Canada, I also encourage you to reach out to your local politicians to make child and youth mental health a priority.


For the full blog, click  HERE to view on Huffington Post