April 11, 2019, Toronto, ON: After the release of today’s Ontario Budget, Children’s Mental Health Ontario is warning that families in Ontario seeking child and youth mental health care supports will still be waiting too long to receive services and unnecessary emergency hospital visits for mental health will continue to rise.
While CMHO is pleased to see the inclusion of an investment in mental health of $174 million towards mental health and addictions services, mental health and justice services, supportive housing and acute mental health inpatient beds, this does not reflect an increase in funding, which is immediately needed.
“There are long wait lists across the province for child and youth mental health which is placing a strain on mental health service providers, hospitals, and the families turning to them for care,” said Kim Moran, CEO of Children’s Mental Health Ontario. “Immediate and increased investments towards the support of young people with mental illness are needed. We can’t continue with the status quo.”
CMHO has provided policy and best practice recommendations to the province advising that no child should wait more than 30 days for mental health care therapy and a child in crisis should receive immediate care. CMHO, families, mental health care providers requested in immediate investment of $150 million as a starting point to address the current child and youth mental health crisis.
Just weeks ago, CMHO released its annual Child and Youth Mental Health Report Card, which included new research findings from the Canadian Centre for Heath Economics at the University of Toronto showing costs to the province’s economy exceed $420 million a year due to absenteeism of the one in four Ontario parents missing work to care for their children with anxiety. The rise in hospital visits by children and youth for emergency mental health care are estimated to cost $220 million annually.
The 2019 Ontario Budget is a missed opportunity to fix the gaps in child and youth mental health care and the loss productivity that families with children and youth with mental health issues are facing. CMHO looks forward to working with the Government of Ontario to end the wait for children and youth and their families seeking mental health care and will continue to advocate for better supports while providing solutions to improve the child and youth mental health care system.