The Auditor General just released a recent report regarding Child and Youth Mental Health. The report identifies a number of issues including inactivity on the previous plans.

We know that mental health is an issue. We are well aware that 1 in 5 people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime and most mental health problems start in childhood and adolescence. Consequently, in June 2011 the government of Ontario launched its Comprehensive Mental Health And Addictions Strategy focusing on children and youth and spending about $190 million. In 2012 the Moving on Mental Health strategy was launched to bring consistent services to children youth and families across Ontario. Despite the funding and new initiatives the problem has continued to rise. The Auditor’s report stated that visits by children and youth and in-patient hospitalizations have increased more than 50% since 2008 – 2009 fiscal year.

Among the various problems identified was the chronic issue of transition to other services including adult mental health services. The response from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and Children’s Mental Health is that they will agree to follow their own best advice from the previous report. Funding and workload have been provided as reasons for not following the report recommendations, and they are legitimate concerns to a point. However, some of the blame must fall on our inability to focus on the very critical recommendations from the report.

So…. Just to spread the blame around, we at CMHA Niagara had a role in following that advice and we have failed. Consequently, I have hope that this report will help to initiate some new energy not only from the ministry but also from various community agencies, including us. One of the ministry initiatives will be a clear focus on transitional pathways to youth in adult services. Within the scope of that initiative CMHA Niagara will do its part to engage with Pathstone Mental Health in bringing down any obstacles transferring youth to our adult services. We have begun the process through joint management meetings and soon-to-be followed by joint staff meetings.

With apologies  to Lewis Carrol, and just a trace of cynicism, I quote Alice in Wonderland: “She generally gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it), and sometimes she scolded herself so severely as to bring tears into her eyes;”

This is the advice we are giving ourselves, and let’s hope we follow it.

— George Kurzawa