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May 4, 2016

Statement

The Honourable Tracy MacCharles
Minister of Children and Youth Services

Children’s mental health week, May 1-7, 2016


Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to recognize that this week is Children’s Mental Health Week.
I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the hard work, caring and understanding of those who love and care for children and youth with mental health challenges – their parents, siblings, other family members and friends.
And I want to recognize the dedication and compassion of our mental health providers and partners who diligently support young people with mental health problems, including our mental health service providers.

While efforts and inroads have been made in reducing the stigma around mental health challenges in recent years, there remains a reluctance in society to accept that many of us face mental health challenges throughout our lives.
That creates a very real barrier that prevents young people from seeking help.
That is why Children’s Mental Health Week is so important...
And why we need to keep talking about mental health in our communities, in our cities and across the province.

Across the province, our Mental Health and Addictions Strategy is making a difference as we provide faster access to quality services, identify and intervene earlier, and close critical service gaps for children and youth.
In the first three years of the Strategy, my ministry, together with the Ministries of Education, Health and Long-Term Care and Training, Colleges and Universities have: supported the hiring of 770 mental health workers in schools, communities and courts.
We’ve provided more than 2,800 psychiatric consults through videoconferencing this year to benefit children and youth in rural, remote and underserved communities.
We launched Good 2 Talk, a free, confidential and anonymous helpline that provides Ontario post secondary students with professional counselling, information and referrals for mental health and addictions services.
And we have established School Mental Health ASSIST, a provincial support team designed to help Ontario school boards promote student mental health and well-being.

Mr. Speaker, one of the most important changes we are making is to modernize the way mental health services are delivered to children and youth in our province.
We are working toward a stronger system that will get them the core supports they need, when and where they need it.
Recently, to support our Moving on Mental Health system transformation, we invested an additional $6 million to hire 80 more mental health workers across the province.
That investment marked a milestone, as it was the first time our mental health Lead Agencies across the province were responsible for identifying and addressing the local needs in their communities.

For example Mr. Speaker, in Oxford County, the Oxford Elgin Child and Youth Centre is providing immediate access to single session counselling services to children, youth and their families.
We’re receiving positive feedback on this service.
For example, one client said, “the clinic has provided an amazing source of support, understanding and education, not only for the children, but for our family.”

In London, Craigwood Youth Services and Vanier Children’s Services have partnered to offer services in the form of walk-in clinics.
Youth and families are able to attend a session in their home communities without the need for an appointment and can schedule further sessions on an “as required basis.”
This service was expanded throughout Middlesex County because of our investment. A weekly clinic will occur in Strathroy and bi-weekly sessions are planned in Dorchester, Glencoe, Parkhill and Lucan.
The response to the clinics has been very positive and by the end of last year, the clinics had served 1,455 children and youth aged 3-18.

Mr. Speaker, new programs like this are coming into action across the province because of this $6 million investment, and because of the work of our Lead Agencies to consult with local partners, find out where new mental health dollars could do the most good, and then take action.
They are doing fantastic work and I am confident of their ability to transform our community-based mental health system for the better.

Mr. Speaker, it is also important that families whose son or daughter is having mental health challenges can find the information they need quickly and easily.
Our government’s latest effort to support young people with mental health concerns and their families is the launch of a child and youth mental health directory as part of Health Care Options.ca.
This directory helps young people and their parents find information on local, government-funded, mental health services and supports, so they can take the first step in getting the help they need.

Mr. Speaker, I’d also like to address what we are doing for Indigenous communities around the province. A few weeks ago, with my colleague, Dr. Eric Hoskins, I travelled to Attawapiskat.
While there, we spoke with community leaders and youth about the challenges they face, and how we can support their mental and physical well-being.
We are working urgently with Indigenous communities and leadership on short, medium and long-term solutions to address the serious challenges facing Indigenous communities and Indigenous youth.
And mental health workers are in the community right now addressing immediate needs.
We are also investing in a Youth Regional Coordination Unit for Mushkegowuk Council which will provide 24/7 mental health support, and evening and night nursing clinical support.

Mr. Speaker, as individuals, as families, as communities, we all need to keep talking openly about mental health, to change the conversation and eliminate the stigma associated with mental health issues.
Our government will continue to work together with mental health workers, doctors, educators, Indigenous communities and community leaders to make sure young people enjoy the bright futures they deserve.
Thank you.