MPP Bhutila Karpoche, Member for Parkdale-High Park and Official Opposition critic for Mental Health and Addictions, tabled a bill last week that would cap the wait time for children and youth accessing mental health and addiction services at 30 days.
Right now in Ontario, one in five young people are living with mental health disorders that significantly impact their lives, and the lives of those around them. 12,000 children and youth are currently stuck on wait lists to access mental health services, with communities’ average wait times between three months and a year and a half.
“Any child or youth struggling with mental health challenges needs help – not just a spot on a long waitlist,” said Karpoche. “We are losing children and youth to suicide because we are not providing them the mental health and addictions care in a timely manner. We can do better.”
On Wednesday, Karpoche was joined at Queen’s Park by Martha McGroarty. McGroarty’s daughter died by suicide at the age of 20, just a few weeks after being discharged from the hospital where she was told that the program she needed was not available, and was advised to wait and to keep checking the website for intake dates.
“It’s too late for Martha’s daughter, but let’s make sure it’s not too late for all the rest of Ontario’s young people. The government needs to take all necessary steps to make it possible,” said Karpoche.
“When mental health issues are addressed earlier in life, the care and services provided are more effective and children and youth sustain less trauma in the interim. Earlier intervention, which happens through investment in youth mental health services, gives young people a better chance at a healthy life.”
Karpoche’s bill has received support from a wide range of stakeholders, including Ontario’s Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, as well as Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority.