Mental health issues increasing in Sudbury youth
Visits to emergency department higher than regional, provincial average
Mental illness is a growing problem among children and teens in Sudbury, according to a recent community survey.
Over the last year, young people aged 24 and under went to Sudbury Regional Hospital's emergency department 580 times for mental health reasons.
That's higher than the regional and the provincial averages, according to the latest release of Vital Signs, a report issued by the Sudbury Community Foundation.
Sudbury child and adolescent psychiatrist Angelita Sanchez said alcohol and drug use is playing a significant role in the rising rates of mental illness among children and teens in Sudbury.
She noted it's often difficult to diagnose mental illness in young people.
"Most adults will fear that if [they] ask, [they] might encourage the child to become more suicidal," Sanchez said.
"That’s actually not true. If we talk about it, then the child will feel more comfortable, because most people will feel ashamed or embarrassed or be fearful about those thoughts. If no one talks about it, then their fear is highlighted more."
Subtle changes can mean deeper problems
The doctor noted subtle changes in mood, grades or behaviour can indicate deeper problems. Relatives, teachers or friends who are concerned about a child's mental health should reach out to health professionals to help detect and prevent serious problems in the future.
"The mental health of a child is dependent, not only on themselves, because the child belongs to a unit -- several units actually, the family, the community the school," Sanchez said.
"And so it is not just the responsibility of the parent or the child themselves, but it is also the responsibility of the community as a whole."