Metro Morning

Teen says sending her to U.S. for mental health care saved her life

Two years ago, when she was 14, Chloe White struggled with anxiety, depression and addiction. Her family couldn't find the support they needed here at home. So they decided to send her to the United States — a decision Chloe says ended up saving her life.

Chloe White's family couldn't find care for her in Ontario so she ended up in Oregon

Chloe White says she's only alive today because her parents forced her into an American health care facility. (CBC)

Two years ago, when she was 14, Chloe White struggled with anxiety, depression and addiction.

Her parents knew that she needed help, but they couldn't find the support they needed here at home. So they decided to send her to the United States — a decision Chloe says ended up saving her life.

"Chloe basically stopped living her normal life," Chloe's mother Louise White told Metro Morning's Matt Galloway on Monday. "We knew she was getting into some serious trouble because what she was doing was she was trying to take away her pain ... and the only way she could find relief from her pain was to self-medicate."

She says the family pursued as many options as they could locally, including private care, and were told that Chloe was "in a danger zone and needed help sooner than we could get [it] in our own province."

That's when they decided to turn to the U.S. 

Chloe didn't want to go. She says at the time she didn't realize that she needed help.

"I was in such a dark place ... My only option that I really saw at that point was to end my life." Her journey to a facility in the U.S. came by way of a trip to Buffalo with her family, who told her they were going for the shopping, then a 4 a.m. wake-up during which she was introduced to two health-care workers. Four flights later, she was in Oregon.

"It's an ongoing search-and-find mission in Ontario, and even across Canada," Louise says of finding help here. "But then you're told even if you get through ... 'well join the queue, there's 200 people on the wait list.'" The family was told it would take between 14 and 16 months to find Chloe a placement.

"More treatment options [need to be] available for youth, all across Canada," Chloe says now."But if there was a treatment centre in Toronto ... I could have gone against my will but at least I would have been in my hometown, at least I would have been somewhere comfortable."

Louise White has co-founded an organization called Families for Addiction Recovery in the wake of her family's experience. And Chloe is about to start the new school year, while continuing to call for better mental health care. "I'm about to go into Grade 12; I never even thought I would finish Grade 9."