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Ontario Investing in Mental Health Training to Support Children and Youth

CHEO-Led Project to Connect Young People with the Care They Need Closer to Home

Ontario is investing approximately $550,000 annually in new training for health care providers to better support children and youth facing mental health challenges.

The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) will facilitate a new ‘ECHO’ program which will see health care providers participate in regular videoconferencing sessions and in individual mentoring sessions with specialists from CHEO including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurse substance use specialists and system navigators with expertise in children and youth mental health.

Over the next five years more than 1,000 primary care providers like family doctors and nurses from across Ontario will receive this specialized training from CHEO. The program will help foster a virtual community of practice for northern, rural and other underserviced communities.

Providing better care for children and youth with mental health challenges is part of the government’s plan to build a better Ontario through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, which is providing patients with faster access to the right care, better home and community care, the information they need to stay healthy and a health care system that's sustainable for generations to come.


“Children and youth struggling with mental illness should be able to get help in a supportive environment, close to home. That is why we are working closely with Ontario’s world class health care providers to develop local, patient-centred care. By investing in more mental health training for our health care providers, we can help to ensure that children and youth across the province have access to the services they need to get better.”

— John Fraser, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

“One in five Canadians has a mental health issue, and we know that 70 per cent first face those devastating problems as teens. They shouldn’t have to experience depression, anxiety or mental illness alone. Not only that, but by investing early in our kids’ mental health, we can diagnose and even prevent lifelong suffering and change the whole trajectory of their lives. The long-term benefits to our communities and society will be enormous.”

— Alex Munter, President and CEO, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario

“Project ECHO will empower clinicians to provide better care to more people, right where they live. Many rural and remote communities in Ontario are disproportionately affected by mental health problems and substance use. Project ECHO will increase access to high-quality mental health care in underserved areas by giving front-line clinicians the knowledge and support they need to help children and youth struggling with these problems.”

— Dr. Kathleen Pajer, Chief of Psychiatry, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario

Quick Facts

  • In October 2015, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) launched the first-ever ECHO mental health project in Canada, with 124 health care providers from across Ontario participating in over 20 sessions.
  • Expanding community-based mental health services is also part of the next phase of Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy. The strategy includes $138 million over three years for community agencies to support improvements to mental health and addictions services.
  • Ontario’s investments in child and youth mental health initiatives are helping more than 50,000 children, youth and their families benefit from quicker and easier access to the right mental health supports.
  • The province also recently announced $6 million in new funding to hire approximately 80 additional mental health workers. This investment will help an estimated 4,000 children and youth each year.
  • Approximately 30 per cent of Ontarians will experience a mental health and/or substance abuse challenge at some point in their lifetime, with one out of 40 Ontarians experiencing a serious mental illness.
  • Project ECHO is the latest step in CHEO’s five-year mental health strategy to improve access, reduce wait times, and create a strong system of mental health services for children, youth and families.

Learn More

For public inquiries call

ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (Toll-free in Ontario only)

Media Contacts:

Joshua McLarnon
Minister’s Office, 647-537-6182

David Jensen
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, 416-314-6197
Disponible en français

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