Sam Matte is a normal 16-year-old girl in Kapuskasing Ontario. She volunteers in her community, she has an after-school job, she attends the local high school, hangs out with her friends, loves clothes and doing hair. Sam has also been receiving treatment for the last 5 years to deal with schizophrenia, chronic depression and PTSD.
While Sam is doing great right now and is just like any of the other kids in her class, things were a little different a couple of years ago. She couldn’t function, couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t go to school. In the 8th grade she had to take a full 3 months off of school while she dealt with her mental health issues. However, about a year ago, through therapy and new medications, Sam’s life turned around. After months of being stuck at home and in bed, Sam was feeling better. A short 2 months after starting her new medications, she got her first job.
Getting better has been a long process, but one that Sam was able to go through in her own community at North Eastern Ontario Family and Children’s Services (NEOFACS), a child and youth mental health centre near her home.
Not every kid is so lucky. There are currently 12,000 Ontario children and youth who can wait up to 18 months to receive mental health treatment in their community. Many kids are forced away from their homes to receive the care that they need, a situation that if it had faced Sam’s family, she says would have been a major barrier to her receiving treatment. Her family wouldn’t have been able to accommodate taking her outside of their community to get her that help. Sam also says that wait times can be detrimental for a young person seeking treatment. She had to wait 3 months to get the help she needed to survive which “was long, but I was lucky” she says, as her own brother had to wait for a year and a half to receive help with his anxiety issues.
But this doesn’t need to be the case, the new provincial government has promised to invest 3.8 billion into mental health care in Ontario. If $120 Million of that amount were to be invested annually in child and youth community mental health centres, no child would have to wait more than 30 days to receive the treatment they need and the province would save $1 billion in hospital costs over the next 5 years. Now is the time to come together and let the new government know that our kids can’t wait for mental health care.Talk with your local MPP today.