BC children need more funding for mental health

December 15, 2017

The BC child and youth mental health budget should be tripled to ensure help for the estimated 70 per cent of young people with mental disorders who currently receive no effective treatment, according to Charlotte Waddell, director of SFU’s Children’s Health Policy Centre.

Waddell shared her views in an article published recently in the Vancouver Sun.

The system needs more interdisciplinary teams, including psychologists, nurses and social workers, to be available in communities where children live, according to Waddell. But instead, budgets for these services, which are provided for all BC children through the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s Child and Youth Mental Health Branch, have been steadily eroded over the years.

Waddell also said that some common childhood disorders — such as anxiety, behaviour problems, substance misuse and depression — could be avoided if society invested in more preventive programs. There are many such programs that are effective and that can be delivered, in family homes and in schools. (For examples, please see the Centre’s recent publication on preventing childhood depression as well as one on preventing anxiety in children.)

Waddell noted that budgets for autism in both B.C. and Ontario have increased 10-fold over the last decade, mostly due to effective lobbying by parents of autistic children. The same has not been true for budgets for other childhood mental disorders, she said. But these increases for children with autism show that increases are possible.

The story, which ran under the headline “Not enough services for mentally ill kids, says family of struggling boy,” was published in the Dec. 1/17 issue of the Vancouver Sun. A follow-up story appeared on Dec. 4/17 under the headline, ” A mother’s plea: Save unique Richmond school that helped her 7-year-old mentally ill son.”