Toronto, ON, March 28, 2018 –Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) wants Ontarians to know that investing in community-based child and youth mental health care and addiction services is a wise investment because it can save lives and an estimated $1 billion in hospital costs over the next five years.

“Today’s investment in child and youth mental health care could save lives and money, said Kim Moran, CEO of Children’s Mental Health Ontario. “Early intervention for those with mental illness yields the best health outcome and the biggest return on investment. We are thrilled with the Government of Ontario’s remarkable commitment to increase mental health funding for children and youth community-based services. Mental health and addictions is a priority with the Government of Ontario and shortages of services and long wait times faced by children and youth may finally begin to be addressed. As we head into an election, I hope all political party leaders understand that kids can’t wait any longer and must increase the funding of community-based child and youth mental health care and addictions services.”

With nowhere to turn because of long wait lists or a shortage of services near where they live, many children and youth are forced in desperation and crisis to seek mental health treatment at hospital emergency rooms. By meeting the funding needs of more than 100 province-wide kids mental health and addiction centres, the province could save an estimated $1 billion in hospital costs over the next five years. According to CIHI, since 2006-07, hospital emergency department admissions for children and youth with mental illness in Ontario have increased by 63%, while in-patient admissions have increased by a startling 67%.  

Accredited community-based child and youth mental health centres have been calling on the government for several years to make immediate and strategic investments to significantly shorten wait times for services, build capacity to meet growing demand for services, recruit and retain qualified staff and clinical experts, and introduce quality improvement initiatives. Today’s investment will result in: a significant reduction in emergency and hospital admissions; timely access to treatment at child and youth mental health centres, and improved service quality. Most importantly, this will improve outcomes for children and youth and will save lives.

Michele Sparling, parent of a child with mental health issues, board chair of Parents for Children’s Mental Health and chief initiator of Shine Out, Shine Out which raises funds and awareness for child and youth mental health, echoed Moran’s comments, “early and timely interventions can make a huge difference in the outcome of a child with mental illness. I am pleased to hear that increased funding in child and youth mental health and addictions is included in today’s budget because kids can’t wait and something has to be done now in making the system easier and more accessible for Ontario families.”