Children’s mental health funding should be boosted

December 2, 2016

Funding for childhood mental health in BC should increase three-fold to reach all children with mental disorders. That was one of the key messages from child psychiatrist and CHPC director Charlotte Waddell, in speaking at B4Stage4 event in Victoria, November 29.

Sponsored by the Canadian Mental Health Association, B4Stage4 is a campaign highlighting the difference between cancer and mental health care in Canada. “We don’t wait until stage 4 to intervene for cancer, so why do we wait to treat mental illness and addiction,” the website reads.

In her plenary talk, Waddell delineated the numbers for BC:

• Some 84,000 children ages four to 17 — or nearly 13% of children — are estimated to have mental disorders at any given time

• But only 30 % receive the specialized treatment they need

•This means that some 70% — about 58,000 — are not being treated

Waddell emphasized that it is unthinkable that we would ask 70% of BC children with cancer to go without treatment. So we can no longer allow this to continue for children with mental health problems.

Waddell also pointed out that five of the most common mental-health conditions in children and adolescents — anxiety disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, substance misuse, conduct disorder and depression — are also preventable. More information about Waddell’s talk is available in an article in the Times-Colonist.