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Letter from Leadership

Creating a seamless mental health care system for our children and youth 

The past year has been one of enthusiasm and optimism as we embark on this exciting joint venture between SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health (CCMH) and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). With both organizations committed to improving clinical treatment and system service delivery to children, youth and families, the CCMH and SickKids collaboration launches an important opportunity to align and co-ordinate our services to create a more seamless and effective model of care delivery. 

Many children, youth, and families experience a fragmented system of care where acute services, mental health interventions, and customized models that address the complexity of their children’s needs are difficult to access in a coordinated fashion. We recognize the need to link and bridge care from short-term crisis intervention to more intensive long-term treatments. We envision seamless transitions both within and between hospital and community-based services and a system where there is a clear point of entry into care with defined care pathways leading to better outcomes.

In support of this vision, CCMH will continue to offer prevention, early intervention, and a range of treatment modalities: outpatient, day treatment, and intensive in-home and residential services. Our current prevention services offer educational programs for parents, with the goal of helping parents to feel comfortable talking to their children about mental health. It also means educating first-contact communities, like teachers and childcare workers who see children on a regular basis, so they can identify potential mental health problems early, to get timely intervention.

But early intervention means little if there is a long wait for more intensive services. Our goal is to improve access to our services to ensure that children and families benefit from timely resources and interventions and to link them to other community resources that may be important to their child’s overall health and mental health, including at SickKids. We will provide a more co-ordinated care and treatment experience, supporting children and youth and their families as they transition between hospital-based and community care services, matching resources to their level of need.

Additionally, through the Gail Appel Institute, we will continue to offer educational courses to our external professional stakeholders, recognizing that our ongoing commitment to professional development remains a high priority for our organization. 

Working with SickKids and our community partners, we have begun an important journey to improve access to quality mental health services and support the advancement of the mental health sector, which plays such a vital role in our community. It has been an exciting and productive year and we look forward to making further progress in the year ahead. 

Christina Bartha
Executive Director
Brain and Mental Health Program, SickKids
Dr. Tony Pignatiello
Associate Psychiatrist-in-Chief
Psychiatry, SickKids
Dr. Peter Szatmari
Chief, Child & Youth Mental Health Collaborative
Department of Psychiatry, SickKids
Pam Hubley
Vice-President Education & Academic Practice, SickKids
Lead Executive, Gail Appel Institute