Yesterday, Children’s Mental Health Ontario held a press conference at Queen’s Park. This was an opportunity for CMHO and the New Mentality to express to government that Ontarians prioritize reducing wait times in the child and youth mental health system.
CMHO CEO Kim Moran, Mary-Anne Leahy Program Manager of TNM, and Vic Corbett from our Youth Action Committee, call for action gained the attention of media and MPPs. They demanded that government urgently make investments in child and youth mental health.
I was completely moved and taken aback by Kim, Mary-Anne and Vic as they demanded that kids can’t wait. In that moment, it felt as though time had stopped. Listening to all three of them speak, was empowering.
We will continue to lose children and youth if we don’t act now. Vic Corbett shared an incredibly personal story about her journey in the child and youth mental health system, and the story of loved ones she has lost due to our current mental health system’s crisis oriented state and very long wait times.
“Children and youth need help. They shouldn’t have to wait. The system fails to recognize that just because I am coping, doesn’t mean that I am not struggling. If there are additional services to meet what I need, I don’t know how to access them. I’ve been accessing mental health services for nine years and the only services I know how to access require me to be in crisis.” – Vic Corbett
I wish that everyone had the chance to experience this moment in person, as it was not only moving but ignited a new drive in me to continue to demand government to invest in child and youth mental health.
I was incredibly proud of Vic, as she was featured on CP24, CBC Radio and CBC TV all across Ontario. It just goes to show, that every voice matters, and that one voice can truly leave an impact.
After the press conference we were invited to sit in on Legislative Assembly of Ontario’s Question Period. This was my first time since I was 13 years old, getting to witness what I see on TV from the sidelines. It was a unique experience, getting to see behind the scenes of it all, and some reactions and conversations between MPPs that don’t make it on the news.
One discussion that stood out amongst other conversations during the question period was that of MPP Bhutila Karpoche, who spoke about the crisis oriented services currently provided in child and youth mental health system and the extremely long wait times.
Unfortunately due to time, MPPs were not able to have a more in depth conversation regarding this matter. However, MPP Bhutila’s bill, the Right to Timely Mental Health and Addictions Care for Children and Youth Act, if passed would cap wait times for children and youth seeking mental health & addiction services at 30 days.
I hope that we are able to get to a place one day where children and youth aren’t waiting up to 800 to 900 days just to access services in Ontario. A dream that I hope soon will turn into a reality. I hope the government of Ontario will listen to us, and join us in our mission to creating a mental health system that is one of quality.
Fizza Abbas, Network Coordinator