Emergency pandemic mental health investment by the Government of Ontario will address critical child and youth mental health needs
Toronto, ON, December 17, 2020: Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) is pleased that the Government of Ontario, Minister of Health, Christine Elliott and Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Michael Tibollo, are recognizing and prioritizing the mental health of children, youth and their families with the commitment of $147 million to address the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the mental health of Ontario’s families.
This one-time funding which was requested by Ontario’s leading mental health and addictions organizations and includes $30 million in targeted funding for child and youth mental health services, will greatly support community child and youth mental health providers to deliver essential mental health and addiction services which are facing increased demand since the pandemic began.
“Even before the pandemic we had staffing shortages and long wait times for some of our child and youth mental health services, but now the situation is dire,” said Kim Moran, CEO of Children’s Mental Health Ontario. “This emergency funding from the Government of Ontario will help mental health providers respond to the increase in demand by children, youth, and their families for essential treatment and services which is especially critical for kids with chronic or complex mental health issues and vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Thousands of kids are struggling right now and some are suicidal. We really need this funding to help reach as many kids as we can whether through increased in-person care or virtually.”
CMHO’s community child and youth mental health providers are addressing critical challenges to service delivery which are amplified due to the pandemic and continue to rise during the second wave of COVID-19 including workforce and staffing challenges, infection control measures and the need to expand its technology. CMHO data shows that since COVID-19, 59 per cent of parents have noted behavioural changes in their child, ranging from outbursts or extreme irritability to drastic changes in mood, behaviour or personality. Additionally, a report from the Ontario Caregiver Organization shows more than three-quarters (77%) of caregivers supporting someone with a mental health issue or addiction find it difficult to access mental health support for the person they are caring for due to COVID-19.
CMHO and its agencies quickly pivoted their services and delivery models as the pandemic started to continue to support Ontario families. They offer virtual services and have adapted their in-person delivery, but as isolation and COVID-19 continues so does the demand. Children, youth, and their families can learn more and find a child and youth mental health centre offering crisis, counselling and walk-in services and do not require a referral.
While CMHO welcomes today’s increased funding toward one area of children’s health, as a member of the Children’s Health Coalition, CMHO will continue to advocate alongside its children’s healthcare partners for a meaningful and comprehensive response that addresses all health needs of Ontario’s children – mental, social, developmental, and physical health.
CMHO and its sector partners also look forward to continuing to work with the Ministry of Health on improving equity and access to quality mental health care through the implementation of this one-time emergency funding and the Roadmap to Wellness strategy and corresponding $3.8 billion investment over ten years.
For more information, please contact:
Kathleen Powderley, Responsible Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org / 416-803-5597