Originally Published in Mississauga News by Steve Cornwell
Mental health organization calls for $150M increase to front-line funding
Peel Region is a wait times “hot spot” for children and youth mental health services, according to Kim Moran, CEO of Children’s Mental Health Ontario. – Pexels stock image
A new report is sounding the alarm about wait times for children and youth experiencing mental health crises, including in Peel Region.
Kids Can’t Wait, which was published Jan. 27 by Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) and combines surveys, interviews and data from mental health centres across the provinces, shows 2019 wait times in Peel reaching as high as 566 days for counselling and therapy for those under 18 years old.
That number was among the highest in the province, ahead of Windsor at 490 days, London at 461, and Toronto at 280 days, according to the report.
The region’s longest wait times for more intensive mental services, the report said, reached 737 days, or over two years. That’s also among the highest in the province, ahead of Hamilton at 710 days and Toronto at 684.
Kim Moran, who is chief executive officer of CMHO, called Peel a “hot spot” for long wait times because funding for many mental health services hasn’t kept pace with booms in the region’s population over the years.
She also said an increase in young people experiencing anxiety and depression, as well as an uptick in families seeking professional mental health services across the province, have contributed to growing wait times.
“We think it’s attributed to things like Bell Let’s Talk, which is this week, where we’re saying to people, if you have a mental health issue, reach out, reach out and talk,” she said. “But unfortunately, the service system hasn’t been funded for all of those increases in demand.”
On average, the reports said that 2019 wait times for mental health services have improved or remained steady since 2017. Intensive treatment wait times averaged 92 days in Ontario in 2019, down from 98 days in 2017, while counselling and therapy waits went from an average of 78 days in 2017 to 67 days last year.
The report calls for a $150-million increase per year in funding for child and mental health services in Ontario, allowing 1,400 new front-line professionals and ensuring access to counselling and psychotherapy within 30 days.
Peel’s Children Centre offers crisis support for those under 18 at 416-410-8615.