Children and Mental Health

Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann calls for better access to mental health care for children

David Swann made this statement in support of Children’s Mental Health and the Canadian Mental Health Association’s #GETLOUD campaign for Mental Health Week:

“Today is Children’s Mental Health day and given what’s happening in Northern Alberta, I can’t think of a better time to highlight the unique Mental Health needs of children. We’ve all seen images and video of families fleeing their homes as well as images of the devastation caused by the fire. The horrors of this disaster will live with the children of Fort McMurray for the rest of their lives.

“It is easy to forget that children are just as susceptible to mental illness and addiction as adults because they may be resilient and adept at changing with circumstance. However, most mental illness and addictions have their origins in childhood and adolescence. Emotional, behavioral and learning problems, as well as adverse experiences such as the current disaster, when inadequately unaddressed, have profound impacts on the rest of the child’s life and have significant effects on wider society.

“In April the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate (OCYA) released a report that shows other chilling consequences of failing to address mental health and addiction in Albertan youth, particularly in First Nations communities. The urgent importance of the OCYA investigation was further highlighted as an epidemic of youth suicides swept the country. Twelve recommendations, including addressing poverty and discrimination for were made by the OCYA, and I look forward to seeing new cross-ministry approaches to them in the months ahead.

“The key for children’s mental wellness, as is so often the case, is early access to care. By being able to confront trauma and illness early and effectively, we prevent not only prolonged suffering of the child and family but also the potential societal impacts later in life. 

“Right now our system does not excel at providing children with the needed access to comprehensive care. Mental health teams sufficiently trained to help with children and families including child psychiatrists and psychologists must be available, and affordable.

“Ultimately, if we are to address mental health in a lasting way, we must begin with our children. When we pay attention to their mental health early in life, we provide the basis for fulfilling, successful lives and supportive families. So let’s #GETLOUD today about the priority of children’s mental health and build a healthy society for their children tomorrow.”