TORONTO — This morning, Mike Schreiner held a virtual news conference and called for significant investment in student mental health as kids return to in-person learning.
“As kids head back to school this week, student mental health has to be a top priority,” Schreiner said. “Access to mental health care should not be a luxury for our kids. It’s a core necessity. Because mental health is health.”
Doctors are warning of an ‘unprecedented’ wave of student mental health requests. But unfortunately wait times for access to youth mental health services have gotten worse under the government.
“The past two years of uncertainty and isolation have been so hard on kids”, Schreiner said.
Waitlists for youth mental health care were already 18 months long before the pandemic — with some kids waiting up to 2 and a half years for help.
“For years, we have called out the government’s penny pinching on youth mental health care,” Schreiner said. “The Ontario government’s entire mental health plan is only allocated $1.9 billion over 10 years. And youth mental health accounts for just a sliver of that funding. It simply doesn’t cut it.”.
I am calling for significant investment in student mental health, including:
- Increased funding to community child and youth mental health services by $150 million per year in line with recommendations from Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) to ensure that no child or young person waits longer than 30 days for mental health care
- Investments to ensure the mental well-being of all students is supported and that students can seamlessly connect to community mental health professionals that are located at or near schools
- Expanding support for tele-health services, and 24/7 crisis hotlines, texting and live chats, including investing in providers designed for BIPOC communities, to help reduce wait times
- Expansion of youth wellness hubs across Ontario so all youth in all communities have access to the support they need
“Everything is not okay,” Schreiner stated. “Help should be available when and where kids need it, not months or years down the line.”
Please find the full recording of today’s news conference here.