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CHEO and The Royal continue to report record demand for mental health services
August 22, 2013, OTTAWA – The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and The Royal are continuing to see an unprecedented demand for child and youth mental health services.

A year ago, CHEO released its first annual mental health update to the community. Today CHEO and The Royal released updated figures.

Continuing a trend since 2009, CHEO once again saw an increase in the number of visits to its emergency department for mental health related crises. In 2012-13, 2,900 children and youth came to CHEO for a mental health emergency. This number has increased 64% since 2009-10, and is the highest number of pediatric emergency mental health visits in Ontario.

The number of children and youth admitted to the 19-bed acute inpatient services at CHEO with moderate to severe suicide risk and self injury has remained high but steady since last year. Since 2009, the number of patients admitted to CHEO with suicide risk has increased 33%, and the number with self injury has increased 61%. This past year, CHEO has seen a 17% increase in the number of admissions with moderate to severe substance use issues.

Youth admitted to the 8-bed inpatient treatment services at The Royal continue to present with severe and complex mental illnesses. In the past year, The Royal has seen a 75% increase in mood disorders, a 22% increase in moderate to severe substance use issues, and a 120% increase in youth presenting with Borderline Personality Disorder.

As of April 1, 2013, there were 910 children and youth waiting for mental health outpatient and outreach services from CHEO – up from 760 a year ago – and 172 youth on The Royal’s waiting list – up from 149 a year ago. Expected wait times for outpatient services have increased to 8 to 10 months at CHEO and 14 months at The Royal. Both CHEO and The Royal attempt to see urgent referrals within two to three weeks.

For the past 5 years, The Royal and CHEO have partnered to form the Children and Youth – Specialized Psychiatric and Mental Health Services program (CY-SPMHS). This program delivers specialized psychiatric and mental health services for children and youth under shared regional leadership and using a centralized intake process. Youth mental health specialists from both organizations collaborate to offer the best possible care to young people in our region.

Preliminary research results show that the increased demand for mental health services at CHEO and The Royal is due to increased awareness of mental illness and greater willingness to seek help.

“The number of parents, kids and youth now willing to step forward and ask for help for mental health continues to grow,” said Alex Munter, President and CEO of CHEO. “This makes it even more urgent to provide the early intervention and treatment that can change young people’s lives forever.”

“Studies have shown that the earlier a person receives treatment for mental illness, the better their chances for recovery. We need to put the mental health of our youth on equal footing with physical health. You simply can’t have good health without mental health,” said George Weber, President and CEO of The Royal.

Over the past year, CHEO, The Royal and community organizations have been working to expand the reach of mental health services, identify critical gaps and help more families.

By partnering together, the Bridges Program was launched by CHEO, The Royal, Ottawa Public Health and the Youth Services Bureau (YSB). YSB houses and manages this intensive treatment program for high-risk teenagers who have been involved with inpatient and crisis services. It is staffed by professionals seconded from the partner organizations. The program -- funded by the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), with support from Ottawa Public Health and the Ontario Nursing Secretariat -- opened its doors in April 2013 and has provided treatment to 27 young people so far, with a capacity to see 120 clients per year.

“Through partnership, we were able to respond to the urgent need for new treatment options in a short time,” said Joanne Lowe, YSB’s executive director. “We’re building greater capacity in the community for mental health treatment for our highest risk youth.”

For further information, please contact:

Eva Schacherl
Communications Manager and Strategist
613-737-7600 x3536
613-769-5553 (cell)  

Nicole Loreto
Communications & Stakeholder Relations
613-722-6521, x6448 or
613-697-2000 (cell)  
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