Sunday, September 21, 2008

Kids wait 1 year for mental health services: IWK CEO

A September 18th posting on
A backlog of cases has resulted in a year-long wait for some young people seeking mental health help, the head of the children's hospital says.

Anne McGuire
[pictured], CEO of the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, spoke at the annual meeting of the IWK on Wednesday.

She said she's not sure why there has been a surge of mental-health cases among children and adolescents, but listed a number of possibilities.

"Whether there's more mental health issues in those age groups, or if we just haven't paid as close attention to them and we perhaps were unable to diagnose as well as identify them," she said.

McGuire said mental health has never received the resources and funding that go into treating physical diseases. To turn things around, she said, the IWK needs to focus more on earlier diagnosis to reduce waiting times and have more outpatient and residential programs.

Stephen Ayer, executive director of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia, said children need to be diagnosed as early as possible.

"It's absolutely critical for a number of reasons, one of which is that the person who has the illness is in great distress," he said. "I know because I've personally experienced mental illness at a young age and I know how distressful that was."

Ayer said children and youth who can't get help right away are essentially being kept from living fulfilling lives.

It's ultimately the Nova Scotia government's responsibility to make sure mental health services are given the necessary attention and funding, he said.

To view the IWK's 2008 Report to our Community, click here (PDF).

Photograph of Anne McGuire courtesy of the IWK Health Centre.

1 comment:

As Lovers Go said...

I am a frequent reader of this blog (Canadian living in the U.S) and I have worked in the mental health field here and I have to say that Canada's mental health services are just horrid. I did research about the treatment that Schizophrenic individuals receive here and then in Canada and both countries are in agreement as to the proper treatment but Canada fails to deliver. It all boils down to universal healthcare. I have to move a close family member here to even get services. His doctor told me that there is "no time for therapy". Speak up!!! Let's fix the system!