‘Kids are not okay’: Canadian Mental Health Association

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is sounding the alarm on kids’ mental health across the country, as it says children can’t access the care they need when they need it.

In a release Friday, the association says that “kids are not okay,” pointing to the stress the COVID-19 pandemic caused for children.

“In Canada, three in four children with a mental health issue can’t get the care they need. That’s because the care is either unavailable or isn’t covered by public health insurance. Further to this, more than half of young Canadians who sought mental health services said they weren’t easy to access, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information,” the CMHA wrote.

The association’s CEO points to underfunding and patchwork services as just some of the inequities when it comes to children accessing care.

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“Our system forces children to get very sick before we give them mental health care. This is an irrational and cruel way to offer care,” CEO Margaret Eaton said. “Children need upfront and ongoing care, and it must be covered by public health insurance and available at the community level, not just in hospitals and doctor offices.”

The association says that children are also very concerned about the effects of climate change, adding a compounding effect to the current mental health crisis.

“A 2021 study by The Lancet revealed that more than 45 per cent of children and youth said their feelings about climate change negatively affected their daily life and functioning. Further to this, 75 per cent said that they think the future is frightening while 83 per cent said that they think adults have failed to take care of the planet,” the association said.

Eaton says the federal government is failing young people across Canada, saying children are in “crisis” with nowhere to turn.

“It’s time we turn to the Prime Minister and demand that he Act for Mental Health to ensure community-based services and supports are properly funded and available to all Canadians free of charge, where they need them and when they need them. Our children, and everyone in Canada, deserve universal mental health care,” she said.

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