In the coming weeks leading up to the release of the 2020 provincial budget by the Government of Ontario, Children's Mental Health Ontario's members, which provide the majority of publicly-provided child and youth mental health care in the province, and youth and family mental health advocates will be attending public meetings with Ontario government leaders and MPPs to urge them to increase investments in community child and youth mental health care.
They will remind government decision-makers that the length of time and the number of young people and their families waiting for Ontario publicly-provided child and youth mental health care is at an all-time high.
And, they will share their front-line and lived experiences about families that are in crisis and struggling at home, work and school because they are not able to access the mental health care they need.
Read on to hear what Shaun Baylis of Pathstone Mental Health said in his meeting with government leaders in Niagara.
We know the basic stats, that one in five children are suffering from mental health issues. We know one out of four parents, basically, are missing work, which is costing a half a billion dollars. Pathstone is looking at 7,000 kids a year, and that’s only 40% to 50% of the kids who are suffering from mental health issues in Niagara. Some 70% of adults have mental health issues stemming from childhood trauma. We have wait times across Ontario at around six months.
When children and youth fail to get the help they need, the results are devastating and can be fatal, eventually leading to a lifespan of using ER, rehab and treatment centres.
Our current and former provincial governments continue to reinforce a knee-jerk reaction to a funding crisis. For example, Ontario hospitals are highlighting their urgent need for immediate funding to deal with the current hallway medicine. A story was published on Wednesday by the CBC, which has come out to identify that capacity issue. Two days ago, our St. Catharines Standard quoted our MPP as stating, “We’re facing a health care crisis in Niagara."
The Inflection Point
We know that 70% of all adult mental health/addiction issues stem from childhood trauma. We also know that when you combine the treatment for depression, anxiety and substance abuse, it is the number one cost to our Niagara hospital system.
Since this is the case, our investment case is that we need to go to the source of where the problem is. We need to go to the inflection point as to where we can change the trajectory of our current health care challenges that are costing our government and taxpayers due to high hospital costs and operating costs of the adult mental health treatment and rehabilitation centres.
Our children’s treatment centres have been chronically underfunded for the past 15 to 20 years. Our children who are on wait-lists due to being ill will become critically ill, and the unintended consequences are that they will die by overdosing or intentionally kill themselves, or ultimately in the future will be using our adult treatment services and going to the ER.
Children and youth mental health and addiction services are the inflection point for prevention, early identification and early intervention for the adult mental health and addiction population.
We need our politicians and our current government to wake up and develop an intentional, sustainable funding strategy to ensure we move the investment needle upstream to children, youth and families.
You need to put a stake in the ground that basically you’re going to invest in youth and children mental health. Bottom line, if you don’t, you’re going to still have the same problems in 10 years with regard to the emergency department. You’ve got a whole wave of kids now—we have more than ever—that if we don’t get the treatment to them, they’re basically going to go into hospitals and rehabs as adults. It is the inflection point. It’s so simple. To me, it’s a no-brainer.
Help our children and youth stay healthy at the onset of mental health challenges. Change our current reactionary, knee-jerk investment strategy to sustainable funding for our children and youth.