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CHEO and The Royal continue to see record demand for mental health services

Work on innovative services continues to help address gaps

September 3, 2014, OTTAWA – The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and The Royal continue to see a record demand for mental health services, according to their annual “mental health report card” issued today.

Continuing a trend since 2009, CHEO again saw an increase in visits to its emergency department for mental health crises. There were 3,162 visits in 2013-14, up from 2,900 the previous year. This number has increased 78% since 2009-10, and is the highest number of pediatric emergency mental health visits in Ontario. The Royal has seen significant increases in youth (16-18) presenting with anxiety disorders, suicidality and emotional dysregulation, substance use and psychosis.

A glimmer of hope for those most at risk is offered by an innovative therapy for teens and their parents. Both CHEO and The Royal are now offering dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) programs for high-risk adolescents that include parent/caregiver groups. The enriched parent programs help parents to better understand the issues and challenges that their youth are facing and give them the tools to be strong partners in their care.

DBT is another small step towards addressing a very significant challenge in this community. Other efforts to address the demand include:

  • The Bridges Program was launched in April 2013 by CHEO, The Royal, Ottawa Public Health and the Youth Services Bureau. Bridges is an intensive treatment program for high-risk teenagers who have been involved with inpatient and crisis services. The Bridges Program has received financial support from the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), the Ontario Nursing Secretariat and Ottawa Public Health.
  • An eConsult service at CHEO, recently launched, makes it easy for family physicians to consult a psychiatrist at CHEO for advice about a specific patient or question and get a response online within 48 hours. eConsult is coordinated region-wide by the Champlain LHIN. Psychiatrists from both CHEO and The Royal also offer telephone consultations to family physicians to provide guidance in treating patients with mental illness.
  • In 2014, The Royal launched HealthyMinds, a free mental wellness app to help youth deal with stress through problem-solving tools and techniques similar to those used in a clinical setting.
  • CHEO, The Royal and community partners are working together to transition high risk youth from youth mental health services to adult mental health services.
  • The Royal has reached over 5,000 youth in 3 years with its Is It Just Me? educational and anti-stigma program designed to start open, informal conversations with youth to promote mental wellness and early identification of mental health issues including depression, anxiety and substance use.
  • CHEO’s Youth Net/Réseau Ado reached out to 5,000 youth in Eastern Ontario in 2013/14 through its mental health promotion and early intervention program, which included focus groups, special initiatives and support groups, all designed and run by youth for youth.
  • The Royal and CHEO host an annual Child and Youth Mental Health Conference focused on building knowledge of the unique mental health needs of children and youth among healthcare professionals, thereby enhancing the care available across our community.


“CHEO is committed to innovation to ensure the highest quality care. Our interdisciplinary team has adapted promising new therapies for the most vulnerable children and youth, and it’s making a difference,” said Alex Munter, President and CEO of CHEO. “As a society, we need to do even more to give kids and youth access to early intervention and treatment that can change lives forever.”

“Good mental health is essential to overall health yet many youth in our community are struggling with complex mental illnesses and the numbers requiring specialized treatment continue to grow,” said George Weber, President and CEO of The Royal. “At The Royal, we are constantly improving our methods of care to help youth overcome the challenges of mental illness. We are committed not only to providing the best possible care right now, but also to research that will improve diagnosis and treatment in the future, and wellness initiatives to help young people stay healthy.”

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 care for children and youth using a centralized intake process.


CHEO is one of the largest providers of child and youth mental health services in Ontario. It offers a broad range of both hospital and community-based services for children and youth (ages 0 – 18) and their families — spanning prevention and early intervention to more intensive diagnostic and treatment services. CHEO is also home to internationally-recognized researchers in the field of mental health, eating disorders and outcomes management. Their research has helped shape clinical programs at CHEO and beyond.


The Royal is one of Canada’s foremost mental health care and academic health science centres. Its mandate is simple: to help more people living with mental illness into recovery faster. The Royal combines the delivery of specialized mental health care, advocacy, research and education to transform the lives of people with complex and treatment resistant mental illness. The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research is proudly affiliated with the University of Ottawa. The Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health raises funds that support The Royal’s work. The Royal places a sharp focus on awareness building through the You Know Who I Am campaign and the DIFD youth initiative. For more information, please visit 

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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