|There has been a recent increase in the number of Canadian children and teens seeking treatment for mental health concerns, and they’re going to hospital emergency rooms for help.A recent report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) found that ER visits for young Canadians (ages five to 24) seeking mental health treatments increased by 45% between 2006 and 2014. The number of inpatient hospitalizations for this same age group increased by 37% during the same time period, according to The Canadian Press and CBC News.
Although healthcare workers say that they’re glad to see the stigma of mental illness start to fade, they are still frustrated that teens feel their communities have no other resources for mental health treatment.
Many hospital workers note that mental health concerns require treatment over a long period of time, and hospitals don’t have the community resources necessary to ensure a full recovery.
For other healthcare workers, this trend makes it clear that communities have been failing to provide young citizens with the medical care that they need.
“It’s a pretty stark call to action,” said Dr. Stan Kutcher, a psychiatry professor at Dalhouse University. “”The kind of community-based, easily accessible treatments that we should be having are likely not there [in hospitals].”
Even though Canadians have free healthcare, it’s important to note that there are financial implications involved, too. When preventative care isn’t readily available, a medical problem may go unnoticed until it turns into a full-blown crisis.
This is actually the case where dental care is concerned, and the cost of providing reactive dental care, rather than preventative care, is partly why Canadians spend an estimated $12 billion annually on dental services. Because so many kids and young adults live in rural regions where dentists and dental technicians are scarce, the cost of a dental appointment doesn’t matter too much when it’s impossible to get to a dentist’s office in the first place.
In a similar way, mental health treatment options are affordable and acceptable, but in many regions of Canada, there simply aren’t enough facilities that can provide adequate treatment for pediatric mental health conditions.
Currently, the report states that about 8% of Canadian youth describes their mental health as “poor.”