Sunday, April 1, 2012

Fear for kids’ future

A letter to the editor published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
Re: "A cry from the heart: Save our mental health staff." Kudos to Ally Dawson, the 16-year-old who is gave us the perspective from an (Adolescent Centre for Treatment) client. ACT is a 24 / 7 operation, and is being changed by the IWK to a 24 / 5 operation.

Ally spoke articulately from her heart in support of the program and the youth care workers, whom she has dealt with first-hand.

Why is it that when ever there are budget restraints, it is always the most vulnerable that get affected? Why is it that "top heavy" management is never affected by these decisions, or at the very minimum, equally affected? Although according to a response I received from Premier Darrell Dexter’s office, "there is no budget cut involved with this decision. In fact, mental health services are exempt from the restraint targets in the province’s multi-year plan to get back to balance."

Mr. Dexter [pictured], himself, states "…the design and delivery of mental health services are done by professionals in the field. As you would expect, we fund the DHAs (District Health Authorities) who make the decisions on the best mix of these services, based on knowledge, skill and advice. Over many years, this model has proved successful. I trust and expect that it will continue to do so."

I certainly hope he is right. The public needs an explanation as to what this proven successful model is.

What will this do to the kids in these programs? How many of them will fall through the cracks as a result of this decision? How many youth suicides will we have to deal with, and how many have to land in jail before we realize that this is a mistake?

My heart goes out to Ally and all the clients of the ACT and Compass programs and to the youth care workers who work with them because they love to. It takes special people to do these jobs, and they don’t have to have half a dozen initials after their names to be qualified, professional and do an "amazing" job.

M.L. (Speranza) Anstey, Antigonish
Photo credit

Also see:

Adolescent Centre for Treatment (PDF)

Compass, Centre for Collaborative Child and Family Treatment

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