Statement by Andrea Horwath on Children and Youth Mental Health Care

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued the following statement on Mental Health Awareness Week, and the refusal of the Wynne government to commit funding to children and youth mental health care:

“Mental health care is health care.

Yet, in Ontario, children and youth are often forced to struggle alone, stuck on long waiting lists and unable to access the professional treatment and care they need.

Last week, Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals introduced a budget that ignored children and youth mental health. She hasn’t been listening to the 12,000 young people and their families who are waiting right now for therapy or intensive treatment. She has turned her back on the desperate situation so many children and families are in.

Today, the Canadian Institute for Health Information tells us that between 2006 and 2016, the number of times a young person was rushed to the emergency room in need of mental health treatment jumped 63 per cent.

That points to the thousands of children who don’t get the community treatment they need. In Ontario, too often, they’re forced to wait until their mental health challenge becomes a crisis before they can get help. A cycle that repeats itself with under-resourced community-based treatment options.

Doing better will save young lives. It will set young people on a healthier path, and give them a chance to fulfill their potential. It will repair families in crisis.

And Children’s Mental Health Ontario estimates that the cost of offering children the care and treatment they need – about $118 million – will translate into a $1 billion savings.

Today marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week. It’s a moment to reflect on the work we all have to do to combat stigma, encourage early recognition and intervention, and recommit to our belief that mental health care is health care. But one of the biggest changes has to come from Queen’s Park. Families need proper funding for children and youth mental health care – and they need a government that will stop ignoring this desperate need.”