Children and youth need faster access to mental health services now: NDP MPP

Vote on NDP MPP bill to cap wait times for youth mental health at 30 days expected Thursday

QUEEN’S PARK – With emergency department visits and hospitalizations on the rise among youth and children seeking mental health and addiction services, Bhutila Karpoche, Ontario NDP critic for Mental Health and Addictions, said it’s more critical than ever to cap wait times for young people who are trying to access this kind of support.

Karpoche is proposing to do just that in a private member’s bill called the Right to Timely Mental Health and Addiction Care for Children and Youth Act, which enters second reading today. If passed, the bill would speed up access to mental health services for people age 26 and younger by capping wait times at 30 days.

"It’s simply wrong to let children and youth in crisis, or who summon the courage to ask for help, suffer for up to 18 months on a waitlist for the care they so desperately need," said Karpoche. "This is literally a matter of life and death as suicide continues to claim more young lives than almost any other cause."

Early intervention and shorter wait times are all the more critical considering 70 per cent of mental illnesses and addictions start in childhood.

Today Karpoche was joined for a press conference at Queen’s Park by Nicole Desnoyers, 26, and Alicia Raimundo, 29, who spoke about the challenges children and youth face when seeking mental health and addictions services.

"Young people suffering from mental illness deserve better than to be told, ‘Sorry, we’re full,’ or, 'Your case isn’t serious enough,'" said Karpoche. “They should be connected with support right away."

“The government can make this a reality by passing my bill recognizing the right of children and youth to timely mental health and addictions care.”

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