Ontario Connecting Children and Youth to Mental Health Care Close to Home

$44.6 million boost in funding to expand pediatric mental health services

Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health makes an announcement in Burlington ON (image source: X / @SylviaJonesMPP)

BURLINGTON — The Ontario government is investing an additional $44.6 million per year to connect children and youth to mental health services across the province so they have access to the care they need, when they need it, in their community. This is part of the government’s investment of an additional $330 million each year in pediatric health services at hospitals and community-based health care facilities across the province.

“Our government is making record investments in the health and well-being of our children now and for the future,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “This investment in child and youth mental health services will support children in receiving more connected and convenient mental health care when they need it most.

The funding will be used to:

  • Expand access to community-based intensive services for children and youth with complex mental health needs.
  • Expand One Stop Talk / Parlons maintenant to connect even more youth to an innovative virtual walk-in mental health counselling service.
  • Expand the Complex Transition Fund that provides short term, flexible support for children and youth as they transition into or out of community-based live-in treatment programs.
  • Add 10 complex care beds in London and Owen Sound to reduce wait times and connect more children and youth to care closer to home.
  • Create two new step-up step-down programs that help youth transition from hospitals to less-intensive services in their communities as they return home, including one in Northern Ontario.
  • Add 2,200 clinical training spots at Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) to train clinicians who treat to children and youth with complex service needs across the province.
  • Establish quality guidelines and standards for live-in treatment programming, so children and youth with complex mental health needs have consistent high-quality services no matter where they are in the province.
  • Develop and implement a provincial bed registry to track and manage live-in treatment capacity to help facilitate faster access to services and reduce wait times.

This consistent and stable annual funding increase will give community-based child and youth mental health providers the resources, staff, and technology to expand and improve access to complex mental health care service and reduce wait times. Over 100 high-priority initiatives are being quickly implemented across Ontario to ensure children and youth in every corner of the province can connect to emergency care, surgeries, ambulatory services, diagnostic imaging, and mental health services.

Through the actions taken to date as part of Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care, Ontario is connecting more people to mental health services and reducing wait times. Progress over the past year includes:

  • Expanding the Ontario Structured Psychotherapy (OSP) program to connect adults who have depression, anxiety and anxiety-related concerns to free cognitive behavioural therapy and other related services through 10 network-lead organizations with over 100 service delivery sites across the province. To date, over 75,600 people have enrolled in the OSP program.
  • Opening over 400 addiction treatment beds since 2019.
  • Providing children and youth with complex mental health needs with secure treatment by opening 16 additional treatment beds since 2021 with 12 new treatment beds slated to open soon once the new Roberts Smart Centre youth facility is completed.
  • Making it more convenient for children to access mental health supports through One Stop Talk/Parlons maintenant which, as of December 31, 2023, has provided immediate, virtual mental health counselling to 1,264 children and youth.
  • Helping people access mental health supports through Health811, Ontario’s free, secure and confidential health advice line.
  • Investing nearly $33 million in 2022-23 into over 100 mental health and addictions supports and programs designed to meet the needs of Indigenous communities across the province.

“Children and youth need reliable and accessible services if they are to grow into happy and mentally healthy adults”, said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “This investment shows that our government is treating youth mental health with the seriousness it deserves. We will continue lowering barriers to safe and effective mental health care for everyone in Ontario.”

Through Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care, the Ontario government is providing significant financial support to hospitals and communities to improve how they deliver pediatric care – ensuring Ontarians of all ages can access care easier, faster, and closer to home in their communities.

Quick Facts

  • Since 2018, the Ontario government has opened 22 new Youth Wellness Hubs to connect children and youth aged 12-25 to mental health and addiction services as well as primary care and education resources in one convenient location.
  • In 2020, the government released Roadmap to Wellness, our plan to build a world-class mental health and addictions system.
  • In addition to investing in existing services, Roadmap to Wellness investments are supporting the introduction of new innovative programs to begin to address wait lists and times and ensure access to timely and appropriate services.
  • In Budget 2023, Ontario invested an additional $425 million over three years into mental health services. This investment has provided community-based mental health and addictions service providers funded by the Ministry of Health with a five per cent increase in base funding.
  • During Bell Let’s Talk Day all Ontarians are encouraged to reach out for help and support when they need it.

SOURCE Province of Ontario

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