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Celebrating Children’s Mental Health Week

By Chris Bartha, Executive Director, SickKids CCMH

Today is the first day of Mental Health Week across Ontario and at SickKids, and it arrives at a time when the mental health of all of our clients is an increasingly important topic of clinical and leadership conversations.    

Within the Brain and Mental Health Program at SickKids, SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health is working to not only improve its own Outpatient and Residential services, but to develop a quality improvement strategy that will support integrated mental health and behavioural management initiatives across all of clinical services. This year, our Intake service has implemented a new process that leverages technology from SickKids, enabling us to collect assessment and outcome data electronically, improving our data quality and enabling us to track our clinical outcomes for the first time. Our Outpatient services have been working on a number of initiatives to increase clinical service options to increase our capacity to serve more clients, and in Intensive services there has been an intentional focus on enhancing our behaviour management skills and processes. In collaboration with SickKids, in the past six months, SickKids CCMH has successfully transitioned 20 clients from hospital to our community resources – an amazing accomplishment given this very new relationship.

Over the past year, across every news platform including radio, TV, the internet and social media, mental health, and the issues faced by children and youth in particular, has been a priority issue. From 2016 to 2017, the growth in numbers at SickKids tells the story of what is going on in communities across the country – more children and youth are seeking help, with many of them looking to hospitals, including SickKids. In 2017, our mental health inpatient unit experienced a 22 per cent increase in admissions over the previous year. In 2016, the Mental Health Urgent Care Clinic (UCC) served 162 patients and in 2017 the number rose to 277 – an increase of 70 per cent; the clinic offered an additional 575 follow up appointments, ensuring seamless care for patients.  The Consultation Liaison Service (CLS), which provides care to kids in medical services, experienced a 79 per cent increase in referrals for mental health consultations. At SickKids CCMH, we have also made important gains that are reflected on our Quality Improvement Scorecard which will be presented at the June all-staff meeting –so stay tuned for these details!

Great team work and collaboration to improve mental health care at SickKids CCMH is ongoing every day. This Mental Health Week, let’s acknowledge the hard work underway and optimize the opportunities to do even more to meet the needs of our clients and families. I am looking forward to 2018 and our continued, collective efforts to improve mental health services across SickKids and SickKids CCMH.