March 3, 2020
The Ontario government’s new mental health and addictions strategy is a start towards making transformational changes to address the gaps in service and wait times for child and youth mental health and addictions care.
“The Minister’s commitment to develop a comprehensive wait-times strategy for the mental health and addiction sector is desperately needed for the 28,000 children and youth waiting for mental health and addiction services, but without immediate and increased investment to accompany this new strategy for more frontline staff and expanded care to children and youth with complex mental illnesses and addictions, wait times and gaps in services will persist,” said Kim Moran, CEO, Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO).
Our members, providing child and youth mental health services to more than 130,000 children and youth in Ontario, have expressed concerns about the province’s new mental health strategy because there are no new targeted strategies to support children’s mental health. Research shows that early interventions have the best health outcomes. They also echo CMHO’s call for additional funding investment to meaningfully enhance the delivery of improved services for children and youth living with mental illnesses and addictions.
CMHO is eager to work with the Ontario government to help guide their new mental health strategy and looks forward to more investments to be able to implement the Roadmap to Wellness in an effort to reduce wait times and make it easier for families to navigate and find services, as well as improve quality and the patient experience.
CMHO continues to recommend prioritizing strategies that will be most effective. Specifically for children and youth, an increase in funding to community child & youth mental health services by $150 million per year to ensure that no child or young person waits longer than 30 days for mental health treatment. This crucial investment will facilitate the hiring and training of 1,400 front-line professionals and help 30,000 more Ontario families by:
- Ensuring access to counselling and psychotherapy within 30 days
- Expanding intensive child and youth mental health and addiction services for those children and youth who need it most
- Scaling 24/7 crisis support services to prevent kids and families from having to go to the emergency department
- Increasing the age of eligibility up to 25 for child and youth mental health programs
At the same time as investments to expand front-line services, CMHO proposes system building recommendations to improve navigation and quality through data, digital solutions, one source and identity for families to use.