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CHEO Comments on New Strategy from the Mental Health Commission of Canada
OTTAWA, Ontario- The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) commends today’s release ofChanging Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy forCanadaby the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

In particular, CHEO applauds the call for increased investment, system change, and the promotion of mental health across a person’s lifespan to prevent mental illness and suicide wherever possible.

“The need has never been more urgent for investment in mental health, nor has the timing been more right,” said Alex Munter, chief executive officer of CHEO. “As one of the largest providers of child and youth mental health services inOntario, CHEO has a front row seat for what has been a very significant change. We are seeing unprecedented demand for our services and a significant increase in the seriousness of the cases.” For instance, in the last two years alone, CHEO has seen a 50 percent increase in the number of crisis visits to its emergency department.

“The current system is not equipped to handle this surge. As a society, we need to do things differently, invest differently, and organize differently,” said Munter. “But we are very optimistic that things are poised to change.”

The Mental Health Strategy for Canada is an opportunity to focus mental health resources where they can make the greatest difference – with children and youth. More than 70 percent of adults living with mental illness and addictions had their disorders begin as young people. And, the Strategy suitably identifies key risk factors such as childhood trauma, social isolation, substance abuse, and having a parent with a mental health problem.

“Tomorrow starts right here. With early intervention and treatment, we can change the entire trajectory of young people’s lives – forever altering both their physical and mental health as well as their life expectations,” said Munter. “Get mental health right for children and youth, and you’ll get it right across the lifespan.”

“This new Strategyis also an opportunity to motivate service providers and government at all levels to deliver a coordinated and integrated approach to mental healthcare – helping reduce service overlaps and gaps, and making it easier for patients and families to get the help they need,” Munter said. CHEO mental health services span the full spectrum of children and youth up to the age of 18. CHEO provides both hospital and community-based services ranging from prevention to treatment. Provincially, CHEO has more pediatric mental health admissions than any other hospital inOntario.

For more information contact:
Marie Belanger
CHEO Media relations (613) 737-2343
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