Oxford-Elgin Child and Youth Centre say they do not have enough resources to fill the need for mental health counselling for children and youth
Oxford-Elgin Child and Youth Centre's executive director Mamta Chail-Teves. (HEATHER RIVERS, Sentinel-Review)
There is an overwhelming demand for access to mental health walk-in counselling services for youth and children says a local agency who is declaring it “a crisis situation.”
Oxford-Elgin Children and Youth Centre (OECYC) offers walk-in mental health counselling for children and youth and their parents and caregivers with no fee for service or appointment necessary.
“In Oxford County, we have expanded the child and youth mental health walk-in to meet the needs of kids and families,” said executive director Mamta Chail-Teves. “We have had an overwhelming demand -- so much so that we can’t serve the kids and families coming in.
We desperately need more funding to add more staff and extend the hours of the walk-in clinic.”
Recent statistics show an increase of 75 per cent of children and families, or 272 more coming in for walk-in services.
About 50 per cent of children feel better after three high-quality counselling sessions, but the agency is not able meet that need, she said.
“We are asking government for funding in the upcoming budget to expand our walk-in services and to reduce the number of children waiting for our services, which have ranged from three-to-six months depending on which program is being accessed,” Chail-Teves said.
The increasing demand for mental health help comes “as awareness and acceptance of mental health challenges grows,” she said.
Youth today, she said, are experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
One recent U.S. study found that the number of 13-to-18 year-olds who died by suicide increased 31 per cent from 2010 to 2015.
In 2015, 73 per cent of teens had access to smartphones.
“Technology is also another factor,” Chail-Teves said. “Today’s adolescent and youth are the first generation to spend their entire adolescence in the age of the smartphone. With social media and texting replacing other activities, this generation is spending less face-to-face time with their friends and family in person.”
OEYC’s current budget is $3,690,429 and Chail-Teves said they need another $1,375,000 to adequately service both Oxford and Elgin counties.
Across the province, $120 million in additional funds annually is needed to meet the increasing demand and shortage of mental health and addiction services for both children and youth.
Visit www.kidsmentalhealthcantwait.ca for more information on the campaign.