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CHEO and The Royal see major drop in wait times for child and youth mental health care and significant increase in outpatient visits

November 18, 2016, Ottawa, Ontario – The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and The Royal have reduced wait times for outpatient mental health care by months and increased access to mental health care for children and youth, according to the Young Minds Partnership Report Card for 2015/16 released today.

  • At CHEO, which treats children and youth 18 and under, the time from referral to first appointment dropped to an average of 22 days from 200 days a year ago. CHEO had 1,479 outpatient referrals and 8,915 outpatient visits in 2015/16.
  • The Royal’s Youth Mental Health Program, which treats youth between 16 and 18, saw wait times for a first appointment plummet to 20 days from 450 days in January 2015. The youth program had 334 outpatient referrals – up 33% – and 1,425 outpatient visits – up 138%.
  • Specialists at both centres offered 1,433 more outpatient counselling sessions than the previous year.

This success is due to a new system of care called the Choice and Partnership Approach (CAPA) implemented by clinicians at both CHEO and The Royal. The CAPA model puts patients and families at the centre of their own care, working with service providers to choose the right care plan based on individual strengths and goals.

While the Royal saw a slight (2%) increase in inpatient days, CHEO saw a 9% drop in Emergency mental health visits and a 14% drop in inpatient days. This decrease in the need for crisis services may be the result of children and youth being able to get outpatient help more quickly.

The Young Minds Partnership is a five-year mental health strategic plan, born out of a growing demand for improved mental health services for Ontario’s children and youth. Over 800 mental health professionals, physicians, community groups, researchers, children, youth and families were consulted in developing the Young Minds strategy.

In addition to continuing to implement CAPA, the next year of the Young Minds Partnership Strategic Plan will focus on:

  • Improving treatment of substance use and psychiatric disorders. The Royal is now screening all patients for substance use problems and consulting with a substance abuse counsellor. They will continue to enhance this service, and CHEO will train staff and start screening.
  • Increasing mental health inpatient access for children. CHEO has recently admitted more children with complex psychiatric problems, and will spend this year training staff in new treatment techniques and expanding access to inpatient beds.
  • Youth transitions to adult mental health care: The Royal has recently developed a new pathway for youth, 16-18 years of age, to transition from youth to adult programs over a three-month period. This service will be improved in the next year and CHEO’s patients will also be included.
  • Project ECHO Ontario for Child and Youth Mental Health: This new CHEO service will use telemedicine to share child and adolescent mental health care knowledge and skills with primary care providers in rural and underserved areas of Ontario.


“By improving our mental health services, we can change the entire trajectory of young lives. It’s a huge accomplishment by our mental health teams that they’ve been able to change so much in just 12 months. And we can expect much more innovation in the years to come.”

- Dr. Kathi Pajer, Chief Psychiatrist, CHEO

“CAPA has been a game changing tool in getting young people the help they need faster so they can get the best chance at recovery. We know the sooner you get help, the better, so we are really pleased with the huge reduction in wait times.”

- Dr. Gail Beck, Clinical Director, Youth Psychiatry Program, The Royal


CHEO is one of the largest providers of child and youth mental health services in Ontario. It offers a broad range of hospital and community-based services for children and youth (ages 0-18) and their families, from prevention and early intervention to more intensive diagnostic and treatment services. CHEO is also home to the newly formed Centre for Paediatric Mental Health Services and Policy Research at the CHEO Research Institute. This Centre will use research to discover innovative ways to get care to children and youth when they need it. CHEO psychiatrists and psychologists are also internationally known for outstanding research in topics such as eating disorders, attention deficit disorder, self-harm and school-based interventions.


The Royal is one of Canada’s foremost mental health care, teaching and research hospitals. 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 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. For more information, please visit

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For further information, please contact:

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

Roxanne Beaubien
Communications Manager
613-868-3740 (cell)

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