TORONTO — The Ontario government is providing over $31 million to help improve access to specialized mental health treatment services, reduce waitlists and wait times, and support the mental health and wellbeing of children and youth by addressing the increased demand for services during COVID-19. This funding is part of the government’s commitment to invest $3.8 billion over 10 years to implement the Roadmap to Wellness, Ontario’s plan to build a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions system to serve Ontarians of all ages.
“Our government continues to make mental health and addictions a priority by making critical investments to ensure children, youth and their families have access to the supports they need to stay mentally healthy during these challenging times,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “With today’s funding, we continue our important work through Roadmap to Wellness to enhance existing services and build a treatment network that will support children and youth, families, and communities across Ontario on their journey to wellness.”
The pandemic has been extremely difficult for many young people, including unique challenges for students. This funding will stabilize and expand existing services and will provide targeted investments in specialized mental health supports, improving access to innovative solutions to support the mental health and wellbeing of Ontario’s children and youth. It will ensure child and youth clients can receive in a timely manner the appropriate care in the right setting, improving outcomes and avoiding hospital admission. Investments include:
- $20 million for an across-the-board five per cent funding increase for all government funded children and youth mental health agencies that provide core mental health and addictions services as well as select Indigenous and specialized services to increase access to supports and decrease wait times for these services to address high demand, particularly during COVID-19 pandemic.
- $3.5 million for the Step Up Step Down live-in treatment program for children and youth with complex mental health needs who require short-term supports to step down from hospital care to less intensive community-based services, or step up from less intensive supports to provide stabilization through intensive interventions.
- $2.7 million at four new Youth Wellness Hubs across Ontario in Guelph, Renfrew, Timmins and Windsor for people between the ages of 12-25, to offer walk-in access to primary care and address their needs related to mental health, substance use, primary care, education, employment, training, housing and other community and social services.
- $2.1 million in annualized funding to support a new Virtual Walk-in Counselling Program which provides children, youth and families across the province with virtual counselling with a clinician via telephone, video conferencing, text or chat.
- $2 million for a new program to help children and youth who require additional one-on-one intensive treatment to transition in or out of specialized, live-in treatment programs, secure crisis units, and/or hospital.
- $1 million to maintain Child and Youth Tele-Mental Health service levels and continue providing access to specialized psychiatric consultations through videoconferencing.
“Now, more than ever, it is critical that we make the necessary investments to support the mental health of our children and youth,” said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Through our Roadmap to Wellness, we are focused on filling urgent gaps in mental health and addictions care and addressing extensive wait times for services. We are committed to creating a system where Ontarians of all ages have access to the highest-quality mental health and addictions supports, when and where they need them.”