British Columbia

Vancouver psychiatrist calls out lack of treatment options for at-risk youth

According to Vancouver psychiatrist Carl Wiebe, services for at-risk youth are expensive and extremely difficult to find.

According to Carl Wiebe, services for youth are expensive and difficult to find

Dr. Carl Wiebe, a clinical psychiatrist in Vancouver, says services for at-risk youth are difficult to find and too expensive for those who need it most. (iStock)

A Vancouver psychiatrist is disputing assurances from the Minister of Children and Family Development that sufficient treatment options exist for suicidal and at-risk youth.

Last week, Minister Stephanie Cadieux said numerous treatment programs exist.

"There are numerous treatments available in communities throughout B.C. ... but those services do require that a youth wants to participate," she said in an interview with The Early Edition.

Dr. Carl Wiebe, who runs his own private program in Vancouver and works with at-risk youth, said many treatment programs are out of reach for the people who need it most.

Wiebe described the case of one young patient who was referred to his clinic from the province's Mental Health Access and Assessment Centre.

"I told them about the cost, [and] we're not a funded service. It's private. The mother said, my child's in a shelter, do you think I can afford that?"

Wiebe compares his program — which can cost $10,000 — to a standard chemotherapy treatment, yet his program is not covered by provincial funding.

"It breaks my heart that I spend half an hour every day dealing with these phone calls referred to services like ours."

Voluntary treatment the way to go

Wiebe, like the Minister, supports a voluntary treatment approach.

"Voluntary treatment is the way to go. These children and adults have poor motivation ... If they are hopeless, if the treatment doesn't align with their goals, why should they bother?"

However, Wiebe said the problems young people have in accessing treatment shouldn't be mistaken with a lack of desire to get that treatment.

Proper treatment, he said, addresses this lack of motivation and helps convince youth to seek help.

"Let's do our best. Let's give the children and the adults who are chronically at risk and suicidal the best treatment."

With files from The Early Edition

To hear the interview, click on the link labelled Vancouver clinical psychiatrist Carl Wiebe says services for at-risk youth too expensive