Written By: The George Hull Centre

As presented to the 2018 Ontario Budget Committee 

Recently, Children’s Mental Health Ontario and some of its nearly 100 mental health service providers met with Ontario MPPs and the Ontario Finance Minister as the Government of Ontario decides what programs and services it will prioritize in 2018. Kids mental health experts and youth mental health advocates have been sharing their experiences and alerting politicians that there is a children's mental health crisis. Read what they shared, along with solutions to the crisis from Children's Mental Health Ontario. 

Child and youth mental healthcare in Ontario is in crisis.

We're going to tell you about a little girl who is currently on our wait list. She is:

  • 5-years-old.
  • She witnessed domestic violence, and her mother is depressed and has contemplated suicide on several occasions.
  • Her parents are now separated, and she lives with her mom.
  • She pinches and scratches herself, as well as bites her lip until she draws blood.
  • At school she is unmanageable. She hits and pushes other children.  She does not use words but acts out aggressively and dangerously.  She is unable to make eye contact and shuts down, particularly when she believes she’s in trouble.
  • She displays significant evidence of early childhood trauma. Without mental health treatment, her symptoms will worsen and become more difficult to treat. 
  • She’s been on our waitlist for 8 months and likely will have to wait a total of ten months before she receives the help she needs.
  • She is one of a large number of children waiting for help.

The George Hull Centre is a Children’s Mental Health Centre in the west end of Toronto that serves children from birth to 18 years old and their families. We provide a wide range of services from early intervention and prevention programs for young children, to outpatient services such as family, individual and group therapy, to residential and day treatment programs for teens.  We help infants, children and youth suffering from a range of mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression to name a few, and are staffed by a multidisciplinary team including, but not limited, to social work and psychiatry.

With more adequate funding we would be able to treat children such as this young girl in a timelier way.  You can imagine that in the life of a 5-year-old, waiting close to a year for service is not good enough.  It’s intolerable that a child has to go on without help for such an expanse of time.  If she had cancer this would not even be contemplated. 

$120M additional funds annually is needed to meet the increasing demand and shortage of mental health and addiction services for both children and youth at child and youth mental health centres across the province.  [Note this incorporates a base funding increase of 30%]

At the George Hull Centre we would use these funds to hire a greater number of social workers to ensure that we can prevent children from waiting for services.  We would also increase access to psychology as well as specialized services for very young children who are currently demanding our services in record high numbers.

With only two small base increases in the last 25 years, children’s mental health services have been consistently forgotten by the government. After factoring in inflation, this amounts to a 60% reduction in service capacity at a time when demand is skyrocketing.

We join Children’s Mental Health Ontario in calling on the Government of Ontario to make child and youth mental health a priority in its next budget. 

Show your support for child and youth mental health care. Visit www.kidsmentalhealthcantwait.ca to send Premier Wynne a letter telling her that you think child and youth mental health needs funding now. It will take less than a minute of your time. 


Photo by Michael Mims on Unsplash