Cuts to Children Mental Health
It has recently come to my attention many cuts that have been made to our system in regards to Children Mental Health Care.
I am a single parent of 3 children with varying disabilities. My oldest son is 12 and suicidal. He has had multiple attempts in the last 3 months. Every attempt we have been directed by his psychiatrist, psychologist and even the Crisis response team to go directly to the Stollery Hospital Emergency room. So off we went however even though hours earlier my son was hanging from a tv cable cord in the basement, he was deemed to be ok and discharged.
As per psychiatrist;
• He does not have bipolar, manic, or any issues that would case this attempt
• After 15 minutes in a room with him (6 hours waiting by this time) He was stable and of no risk to himself or others (He did state to the Dr he doesn’t know if he was going to hurt himself again or if he could keep himself safe)
• There are no beds for inpatient
• They wont keep him overnight for observation
• The hospitals are not equipped to handle impulsive suicide attempts
• It would be easier if he pre-planned or wrote a note prior to attempt
• The responsibility is on me to keep him safe which includes 24/7 supervision including following him to the bathroom for every use. Sleeping on the couch with him. Not allowing him out of my sight ever.
• I was told if I cant do this or if I refuse to take him home after this attempt then Child Protective Services will be called and he will be relinquished from my care and I will be labeled as Abandoning my son.
• Medications or anything else were not reviewed, as she explained she will not look into this is it his regular psychiatrist who should handle this situation. However his regular psychiatrist will not take emergency appointments and if there are issues we should go directly to Stollery Emergency Department. I was just recently informed that I guess there is a after hours psychiatrist at CASA however no one has been able to give me this contact information.
I have been in contact with multiple different parents who have been through very horrific experiences both at the Stollery and the Royal Alex Emergency department. These parents are being sent home with children who are having very serious mental health concerns, or even worse having their children taken away from them if they feel they cant keep their children safe!
Cuts and issues I have been made aware of.
• As per staff at Royal Alex Emergency Department; All child psychiatrist’s have been cut from Emergency Rooms across Edmonton. Stollery is the only Emergency department that will see Children with Mental Health issues.
• The psychiatrist’s that work out of the Emergency Department at the Stollery also handle the Adult Emergency Department as well.. there have been reports of no psychiatrist on shift from 3pm-5pm, and some parents have been refused to see a Psychiatrist or a Mental Health team as one was not available
• After midnight there are no Mental Health nurses until around 7-8am the following day.
• As per 211 – EMS and parents are still being directed to go to Royal Alex for Children Mental Health Care, however they are all being turned away. I asked 211 if they could update this information however they are locked out by Alberta Health Services (AHS) to make any changes and were unaware of these issues.
• Family Supports for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) has by far affected a broader spectrum of parents as FSCD is not limited to just Children Mental Health but all children with disabilities. It has come to my attention one of two things has happened no one has been able to give me specific answers as per what is going on. It is reported approx. 8-13 workers have been either let go or have walked out. Each worker is estimated to have anywhere from 100-400 parents on their caseloads. Parents are not receiving services, numbers have been disconnected. Parents are continuing to call for months with no return phone calls, this includes to all supervisors, as well the manager of the department is not returning calls.
• As per (OCYA) Office of the Child and Youth Advocates in Edmonton, they are only able to advocate for children who are in the care of Child Protective Services, or the Courts. She says they are legislated and unable to help any other children
• As per a previous Child Protective Services (CPS) Worker there used to be a section in the Child, Youth, and Family Enhancement Act, that would protect our children who were of immediate danger both to themselves or others. As per this worker and reviewing the Act myself it has in the last 15 years been removed from the Act.
I would like to finish in just asking Why? I think us families that are struggling with Children who have Mental Disabilities deserve some answers!
No hospitals would ever turn away a child with Cancer.. why should a child with a mental disease be treated any different