Report examines burden of mental illness and addictions on Ontario kids
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Mar 2, 2015
, Last Updated: 1:36 AM ET
Ontario must do more to improve mental health services for children and youth, a new report says.
?We need better information to guide policies around the mental health care and treatment of children and youth in this province,? said Dr. Paul Kurdyak, who heads the Mental Health and Addictions Research Program at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.
The Mental Health of Children and Youth in Ontario: A Baseline Scorecard is part of the first phase of the provincial government?s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy which was launched in 2011.
According to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, approximately 467,000 to 654,000 children and youth in Ontario have at least one mental health disorder. The last Ontario Child Health Study found that that only one in six children and youth with a mental illness received some form of specialty mental health service, adding that these rates may be even lower for Aboriginal children and youth.
?This is the first report in Canada that comprehensively describes the current state of mental health and addictions system performance for children and youth – an important age group because this is when many mental health problems begin,? said Dr. Astrid Guttmann, Chief Science Officer at ICES.
Suicide, schizophrenia and admissions to hospital for a variety of mental health problems are higher in lowest income neighbourhoods across the province, the study found.
It also said ?emergency department visits and hospitalizations for anxiety disorders rose from 2006/7 to 2011/12.?
Kurdyak says mental health and public health practitioners, policy-makers and researchers need to work together to identify and enhance health promotion and intervention strategies for the province?s youth. But, timely access to treatment for those suffering from mental illness and addictions also needs attention.