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CHEO and The Royal answer call to improve access to mental health care with Young Minds strategy
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Expert care and research for healthy young minds
October 29, 2015 – OTTAWA – The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and The Royal are launching a shared five-year strategic plan to improve access to mental health care for children and youth in Eastern Ontario.
For the past 15 years, CHEO and The Royal have worked together to provide specialized psychiatric and mental health services for the region’s children and youth. Over that time, both organizations have seen dramatic changes in the numbers of children and youth seeking care for mental health issues as well as increases in the severity of their illnesses (see Mental Health Report Card). The new strategic plan will help us adapt to this changing environment to better serve the needs of young people in our community. Over 800 mental health professionals, physicians, community groups, researchers, children, youth and families were consulted in developing the Young Minds strategy.
Through our shared services — now referred to as the Young Minds Partnership — CHEO and The Royal provide expert care and research for healthy young minds. Working in collaboration, we will improve access, reduce wait times, and create a strong system of mental health services for children, youth and families. We will do this by:
  • Reducing waitlists using the Choice and Partnership Approach (CAPA), a model that speeds up access to assessment and treatment
  • Offering more help to kids and youth while they wait for treatment
  • Helping parents and caregivers find the right services at the right time
  • Improving emergency care
  • Dedicating beds at CHEO to children under 12 years old with severe mental health problems
  • Giving effective help to children and youth with substance abuse and mental health problems, homeless youth, youth in juvenile justice, and those who have experienced trauma
  • Improving work with Francophone, Inuit, First Nations, Ethnocultural, and LGBTQ children and youth
The Young Minds partnership will continue to work with community partners in our region to improve the mental health system as a whole. It will be important to engage children, youth and families in their own care. There will be a continued effort to explore ways to use technology to reach out across our region and to improve clinical care.
CHEO has seen a 75% increase in mental health Emergency visits since 2010, and has had over 1,000 children and youth waiting for outpatient treatment. The Royal continues to see a growing number of inpatients and outpatients – and a trend of more severe mental illness, including more cases of psychosis. Early intervention is critical in improving the health of children, youth and families coping with a mental health issue, but with the growing demand for services, extensive wait lists still exist in spite of significant changes to address the issues made by both CHEO and The Royal.
Over the next five years, CHEO and the Royal will continue to monitor and measure the impact of the changes, as well as sharing an annual report card on the strategic plan with children, youth, families and the community.
“We’ve heard children, teens and families ask to have a stronger voice in their care. The time for change is now. We need to improve access to quality care – so kids get the help they need faster. By offering treatment earlier, we can change the entire trajectory of young lives.” - Alex Munter, President and CEO of CHEO
"The mental health needs of children and youth have changed; more of them are seeking help earlier and for more complex mental health issues. We need to change how we deliver care to young people when they need it. That’s what the Young Minds Partnership is all about. We’ve talked to kids, families, our staff, and community partners and we’ve put together a collaborative strategy to improve access, increase quality of care, and reduce wait times. These changes will help kids get healthy now and stay healthier in the future." - George Weber, President and CEO, The Royal
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 public education initiatives like Conversations at The Royal and Is It Just Me? Conversations about Youth Mental Health.
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For further information, please contact:

Eva Schacherl
Communications Manager
613-769-5553 (cell)

Karen Monaghan
Communications Manager
613-722-6521 x6449
613-868-3740 (cell)
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