Children and youth ‘Desperately Waiting’ more supports for mental health and addiction

The Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth has called on the Government of Saskatchewan to ‘make good’ on past promises to improve mental health and addiction services.

The child advocate released a report called ‘Desperately Waiting’. In that report, they say children and youth are at a crisis point trying to access and receive mental health and addiction services.

Dr. Lisa Broda, the province’s advocate for children and youth, said that these services had had gaps and deficiencies for over two decades.

“What concerns me most is knowing that the profound impact of poor mental health and well-being of children and youth can tragically lead to the gravest of outcomes. Until young people have full and effective access to preventive mental health and addictions services, their well-being will continue to suffer,” she said. “We must not be satisfied with the state of mental health and addictions service provision as it is today. After decades of the same issues, we cannot expect outcomes to change without significant investments and for the system to immediately prioritize the well-being of children.”

The report includes 14 cross-government recommendations related to mental health and addictions inpatient and community-based services. Some of these recommendations build upon those made in past reports, while others are new.

These include:

  • Implementing Youth Advisory Councils within the Ministry of Health and Health Authorities
  • Decreasing wait times for mental health and addictions services to meet or exceed public expectations
  • Funding and implementing more mental health counsellors and Indigenous Elders/Knowledge Keepers in schools
  • Expanding outreach-based mental health and addictions services
  • Funding and providing in-home support services to families who require this service to maintain care for their children at home
  • Developing “middle-tier” therapeutic residential services for children and youth
  • Evaluating and enhancing current detox and addictions treatment models
  • Improving transitions from child and youth to adult mental health and addictions services
  • Implementing the electronic Mental Health and Addictions Information System
  • Moving all child-serving ministries to an integrated service-delivery model to enhance communication and coordination of services and achieve better outcomes for mental health and addictions services
  • Developing a province-wide ‘Children’s Strategy’ to mitigate the social and environmental factors that negatively impact the well-being of children and youth

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