May 8, 2018 – Annually and during Children’s Mental Health Week, Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) provides a snapshot of the state of mental health and addictions care in the province. This year, unfortunately, the pattern of children and youth waiting for the right type of mental health care services at the right time and place continues. New data, released today from the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI) about the rates of hospital emergency department (ED) visits and stays in hospital by children and youth seeking help for mental disorders and substance abuse shows a continued spike in ED and hospitalizations since 2006/2007 to 2016/2017 with a startling 72 per cent rise in ED visits and a 79 per cent spike in hospitalizations. In comparison, visits and hospitalizations for other disorders during the same period continued to decrease by 22 per cent.
Nearly 40% of patients using hospitals in 2016/2017 had three or more visits, which is often an indicator that they are not receiving mental health follow up care they need in the community. And, nearly half, 45% of those visiting the emergency department are children under 18. Ontario also has higher rates in both ED visits and hospitalization than the national average, hospitalization in Ontario is nearly 25 per cent higher. Earlier this week, CIHI released national data on ED visits and hospitalization for children and youth aged 5 to 24 with mental disorders which showed increases by 66 percent and 55 per cent respectively.
“Too many children struggling with mental health and addiction issues in Ontario are not getting the help they need,” said Kim Moran, CEO of Children’s Mental Health Ontario. “Kids can’t wait any longer. Our wait times, the new data from CIHI and our research of parent and youth experiences accessing mental health services proves just how urgent the need is to immediately make investments in child and youth mental health care. There are nearly 100 publicly-funded child and youth mental health centres in the communities where these children live ready to provide quality care, but there are not enough resources.”
Despite the shocking statistics about the rise in demand and lack of available resources for families with children and youth needing mental health services, CMHO believes that Ontarians and political leaders are starting to understand just how dire the situation has become.
“Recent promises by all political party leaders that they will make significant investments in mental health makes me optimistic that children and youth with mental health issues will be a priority after the upcoming provincial election,” said Moran.
Michele Sparling, parent of a child with mental health issues, board member 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, is also cautiously optimistic about the state of children’s mental health in Ontario,
“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 being promised by Ontario’s political leaders because kids can’t wait and something has to be done now in making the system easier and more accessible for Ontario families.”
Mental Health Week is an important time when CMHO, its partners in mental health care, parent and youth advocates are able to bring awareness to the prevalence of mental health issues throughout childhood, engage in conversations about mental health and be the voice for children who need government support and funding for community mental health care. For those wanting to learn more about the state of child and youth mental health care in Ontario or to join CMHO in promoting and advocating for children and youth with mental health issues, visit CMHO.org to learn more.