The provincial government announced today that Island youth who are struggling with mental illness will soon have more access to acute and community-based mental health care.
A new Youth Mental Health Day Treatment program will be established to better meet the needs of children and youth in the community. Specialized youth mental health staff will be added at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to care for youth with acute mental health needs. A new Behavioural Support Team is now being hired to provide more support to children with mental health conditions that cause significant behavioural disorders.
The new Day Treatment Program will open in the spring in Charlottetown for youth aged 13 to 18. It will offer a range of programming including multi-disciplinary assessment, intensive treatment, academic support, rehabilitation and family support, as well as assisted transition back to the community. The program will be staffed by nurses, a child psychologist, youth workers and social workers.
The Day Treatment Program will be located at 40 Enman Crescent, the former location of the Strength Program for youth with addictions. The facility was designed and renovated as a day treatment centre not long ago. Centrally located, it has a private entrance, security, and comfortable space for individual, group and family programming.
Premier Wade MacLauchlan said the latest evidence suggests that in a modern mental health system, youth mental health services should be located primarily in the community and the lack of access to community-based services often drives youth to emergency rooms and hospitals for crisis support.
“Children and adolescents with mental health problems are much more likely to become adults with mental illness,” he said. “If we can provide them with appropriate care when symptoms emerge, many will go on to realize their full potential, to be productive workers and contributing members of society.”
PEI Medical Director of Mental Health Dr. Heather Keizer said mental health and addictions on PEI is entering a time of renewal and revitalization.
“I am thrilled to see this youth day treatment program come to fruition in a safe and beautiful setting that will be consistent with current standards of care, community integration and best practice recommendations,” she said. “This is a very positive first step forward to the robust mental health and addictions service we want: evidence based, cost effective and responsive to the identified needs of Islanders.”
Reid Burke, Executive Director of The Canadian Mental Health Association PEI, said his association is very pleased to see the government of PEI placing a much-needed focus on targeted treatment for youth struggling with their mental health.
“As an organization we recognize the need for inpatient mental health treatment and services but also believe that individuals should transition back to community at the earliest opportunity as rehabilitation and recovery are best achieved in the community,” he said. “This announcement today is reflective of this and advances the work toward an effective continuum of care.”
The availability of additional dedicated youth mental health staff and programming will improve outcomes for QEH pediatric patients with acute mental health needs. It is also expected to shorten hospital stays and reduce re-admissions. New staff will include a child psychologist, nursing staff, academic youth worker, two youth workers, an occupational therapist, two social workers, a patient care worker and support staff.
“Inpatients will soon benefit from more therapy, programming and staff support, making it easier for them to transition either to the day program or home when they are well enough to leave the hospital,” said Health and Wellness Minister Doug Currie. “By expanding access to both acute and community-based services, we are providing a step-up for youth in the community and a step down for youth in the hospital.”
A new Behavioural Support Team of specialized mental health therapists and youth workers will provide targeted support and interventions for school-age children with mental health conditions that cause significant disruptive behaviours such as ADHD and Opposition Defiant Disorder. Children served by Child Protection Services, Justice, Family and Human Services and Education, as well as pediatric clinics and child psychiatry will benefit from the collaborative efforts of the team. Once it is up and running in the new year, the team will support up to 125 cases per year.