CMHO has looked further into yesterday’s announcement from the Ministry of Education, and it is our understanding that the announcement will not mean any new or additional funding for school mental health workers. The funding which supports yesterday’s announcement is annualized and had previously been announced.
Many parents, educators, children’s health leaders and mental health workers reached out to us yesterday. We all want the same thing, for our children and youth to be able to get mental health help when they need it.
Our primary concern with yesterday’s announcement from the Minister of Education is that it does nothing to shorten wait lists or remove barriers to access for child and youth mental health treatment for those who are most ill and in crisis right now.
We are losing too many children and youth to mental illness. The situation is extreme. We urgently need to prioritize resources and interventions for these children and youth.
When it comes to kids’ mental health, we should never have to choose between promoting mental wellness for all children or providing the life-saving and life-changing treatments needed for those kids who are most ill.
A comprehensive strategy is urgently needed
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the crisis in child and youth mental health to unprecedented levels. Our kids are not okay, and the provincial government can no longer ignore this crisis. We need a comprehensive strategy and approach for the sake of our kids and families, and we need it now.
Kids’ lives are at risk.
Original Statement – May 4, 2021
Children’s Mental Health Ontario, mental health clinicians and community mental health care providers are extremely concerned by the Government of Ontario’s decision to redirect mental health care of children and youth to the education sector.
Mental health care for children and youth, especially those with complex needs should be delivered through the health care system and by community providers which are connected to primary care and hospitals and who have the expertise.
While education partners are important for mental health care promotion and early identification of mental health issues in children, the burden of the pandemic on teachers, educators, children and parents should not be expanded to deliver mental health care but instead should be focused on the delivery of education.
The child and youth mental health care system is already facing extreme staffing shortages. Diverting valuable mental health resources from one sector to the other will not reduce wait times, wait lists or ensure that children receive the right kind of care where and when they need it. In fact, it will reduce the amount of mental healthcare available to children, youth and families in the province.
Children’s Mental Health Ontario also continues to advocate for schools to be the last to close and the first to open in support of kids’ mental health and well-being.
“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. Today’s action to shuffle staff to the education system instead of listening to mental health care experts who have for more than a year been calling on the Government of Ontario to allocate $110 million a year of the $3.8 billion commitment from the province to invest in community mental health and addiction providers is likely to harm not help Ontario’s children and youth.”
Kim Moran, CEO Children’s Mental Health Ontario