Ontario Liberals To Boost Mental Health Services With Focus On Kids

Ontario Liberal Plan Includes Rebuilding CAMH Centre

TORONTO, Sept. 23, 2011 /CNW/ - Ontario Liberals are making mental health — particularly children's mental health — a priority, Premier Dalton McGuinty says.

"Mental health affects one in five people in Ontario, which in turn touches their friends, fellow workers and families. So it's really an issue for all of us, which is why Ontario Liberals have a comprehensive plan, starting with our kids," McGuinty said.

The Premier made his comments at a visit to CAMH today, where he thanked front-line mental health workers for their hard work with Ontario kids and families. He outlined the Ontario Liberals' comprehensive strategy for mental health issues, and how it will help 50,000 young people in Ontario — as well as their families.

The new strategy will:

  • Place mental health workers and expert nurses in schools and the youth court system.
  • Add more short-term and crisis help.
  • Expand video counselling services for kids in remote areas who can't travel easily to appointments.
  • Introduce culturally-appropriate help for Aboriginal communities.
  • Boost help for young people making the often-challenging transition from secondary to postsecondary school.

"This is great news. We've not seen anything like this in decades … you would have to go back to the Davis government to find investments into children's mental health in this way," said Gordon Floyd, President and CEO, Children's Mental Health, Ontario.

McGuinty also told how Ontario Liberals are helping with the CAMH Queen Street Redevelopment Project. The three-phase project, now underway on Queen Street West, will let clinicians, researchers, educators, health-care students, and health-promotion experts work and learn together at one site. It also brings services closer to where people live, with more outpatient services and community outreach.

"We're moving forward, together for healthier Ontario communities, and that includes helping our kids and families with mental health issues they may face," McGuinty said.

backgrounder

ONTARIO LIBERALS' MENTAL HEALTH STRATEGY AND CAMH REDEVELOPMENT

Ontario Liberals are making mental health — particularly children's mental health — a real priority.

Dealing with mental health issues is important for everyone — as many as one in five people in Ontario will struggle with mental health in their lifetimes. This affects not only them, but their friends, fellow workers and families — so it's an issue that can reach all of us.

Ontario Liberals are taking a comprehensive approach, starting with investing in our kids. Focusing on children's mental health will touch the lives of 50,000 young people in Ontario.

Our goal is simple — to make it easier and faster for families to get help with mental health challenges, when they need the service and as close to home as possible. We will follow up by focusing on prevention, early identification and services for adults.

We're also helping with new facilities, for example, helping with the capital funding for redeveloping the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto.

ONTARIO LIBERAL PLAN

Ontario Liberals made it a priority to invest in children's mental health over the next three years, in the 2011 budget. Details of the plan were announced in June.

Kids and their families who face mental health issues need help immediately. They can't afford to spend time on wait lists, and they need comprehensive, professional support and follow-up.

Ontario Liberals' comprehensive approach helps all of us. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, mental health costs the Canadian economy more than $51 billion each year.  Every day, 500,000 Canadians are absent from work due to psychiatric problems.

CAMH reports that mental health is the number one cause of disability in Canada, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of disability claims and 70 per cent of the total costs. The cost on our families and society is arguably even greater. Early treatment is important because in 70 per cent of cases, mental health problems strike people early in life, and they affect individuals for a long time.

In June, the Ontario Liberal government released its Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, which also speaks to the need to expand our focus to adults.

Our plan will invest an additional $30 million each year, starting in 2014, to improve mental health services for adults. We'll work together to bring forward the Comprehensive Strategy to improve mental health prevention, identification and treatment for adults.

We've targeted three areas to support kids who need help too — fast access to high-quality services, early identification and support, and helping vulnerable kids with unique needs. Our plan includes:

  • Placing mental health workers and nurses with mental health expertise in schools. This move alone benefits more than 9,000 kids - and it will give teachers, social workers and other professionals the tools and training to identify mental health issues early on.
  • More services such as short-term therapy and crisis intervention in community agencies, to reduce wait lists and help 13,000 more kids.
  • Expanding video counselling services to rural, remote and underserved communities to provide more kids with consultations with child psychiatrists — to help kids who can't always travel long distances for appointments.
  • Providing culturally appropriate services to 4,000 more Aboriginal kids by hiring new Aboriginal mental health workers.
  • Keeping 2,300 youth out of the justice system by adding more mental health court workers who can refer them, instead, to community-based services, such as clinical counselling.
  • Helping more than 16,000 youth making the often-challenging transition from secondary to postsecondary school, by adding more mental health workers on campuses in colleges and universities. Too often we take for granted that this transition will be seamless — but often our young people need help, and we'll be there.

SUPPORTING THE CAMH QUEEN STREET REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT

Ontario Liberals are supporting the construction of a 10-year, three-phase project, now underway on Queen Street West.

The new CAMH will let clinicians, researchers, educators, health-care students, and health-promotion experts work and learn together at one site. It also brings services closer to where people live, with more outpatient services and outreach.

The redeveloped CAMH is in sync with the community and with Ontario Liberals approach to improving health care and addressing mental health issues.

WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID

"Only the Liberals included a commitment to increase mental health services, particularly for children, in their election platform."
Toronto Star editorial, September 17, 2011

Only the Ontario Liberals have a plan for meeting the challenge of mental health, and for moving Ontario. Forward. Together.

SOURCE Ontario Liberal Party

For further information:

Ontario Liberal Party Media Office:
416 961-3800 ext. 328

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