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Ontario child and youth mental health service wait lists double

A report from care providers shows that wait times for children and youth mental health services have more than doubled in two years.

The report from Children’s Mental Health Ontario, released Monday by the association representing Ontario’s publicly funded child and youth mental health centres, says 28,000 children and youth are currently on wait lists for treatment across the province. The number is up from approximately 12,000 in 2017.

The report suggests that rates of depression and anxiety among children and youth and years of under-funding have contributed to the rise in wait times.

The report shows wait times for service can vary dramatically depending where in the province a child seeks treatment and the care required. Waits can range from just days for mild issues to nearly two and a half years for more complex behavioural interventions, the report said.

The group calls on the government to up its spending commitments on mental health services.

If the province spent the required money, it could quickly ramp up hiring for over 1,400 workers and that would cut the average wait for care to around 30 days, the report said.

Ford has promised to spend $1.9 billion on mental health care over the next decade, a commitment that would include bolstering addictions and housing supports across the province. He has also said the money will help cut wait times for youth who need treatment.

The $1.9 billion pledge will be matched by the federal government, bringing the total commitment to $3.8 billion.

Mental health issues among young people has been accelerating in recent times and is expected to get worse, immediate intervention is the need of the hour. -CINEWS

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