Thursday March 03, 2016

Half of all hospital beds in Canada for kids and youth filled to treat mental health

On any given day, roughly half of all overnight hospital patients aged 5 to 24 are being treated for a mental disorder.

On any given day, roughly half of all overnight hospital patients aged 5 to 24 are being treated for a mental disorder. (U.S. Fotografie/Flickr cc)

Listen 19:29

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There is an alarming trend involving a growing number of Canadian children turning to hospitals for mental health services.

Across the country, child and youth emergency room visits for mental health issues increased 45 per cent from 2007 to 2014.

On any given day, roughly half of all overnight hospital patients aged 5 to 24 are being treated for a mental disorder.

Faced with long wait times, parents of children with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues are even going into debt to pay for help they can't afford to wait for. They are calling for provincial governments to better fund mental health treatment for kids.

Mental Health Quoteboard

And it's not just parents that are frustrated by the youth mental healthcare system. Many front-line workers are trying to find solutions to systemic problems too.

Health Canada set up the Mental Health Commission of Canada nine years ago, services for children and youth were part of the federal government's mental health strategy in 2012. But many of the recommendations from the report have yet to be put into practice.

Guests in this segment:

The Current requested an interview with Health Minister Jane Philpott. She wasn't available, but sent us a statement that reads:

"Access to mental health services, including wait times, is a critical issue and that is why it is among the shared health priorities I am discussing with provinces and territories as we negotiate a new health accord."
 

Have you had trouble getting access to mental health care for your child or when you were a minor?

Tweet us @TheCurrentCBC. You can also email us. Or post a comment on our Facebook page

This segment was produced by The Current's Willow Smith and Karin Marley and Rana Sowdaey.