Social services and health sector partner to support family doctors in diagnosing and treating mental illness in children and youth

PEEL REGION (February 13, 2015) – A unique partnership between health and the social services sector has been formed to support family doctors in meeting the growing needs in our community. The 2nd Annual Physician Conference on Community Mental Health was held on February 12, 2015 at the Mississauga Convention Centre.  The focus of this year’s conference was children and youth.

Mental illness is the second leading cause of disability and premature death among Canadians. One in five will experience an episode of mental illness during their lifetime, 70% of which will occur during childhood or adolescence. Early intervention and prevention are critical. Family physicians are one of the first points of intervention. Both patients and their doctors in Peel face a confusing system and significantly long wait lists as mental health services are not currently able to meet demand. 

“In 2014 the United Way of Peel Region published ‘Mapping the Mental Health System in Peel Region’. We see the impact of mental health and addictions in our hospital emergency departments, our work places and our schools. We need to significantly increase access to community based mental health services in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon to meet the needs of our growing, diverse communities,” said Shelley White, President and CEO, United Way of Peel Region.

“Mental health care is a specific component of the chronic disease spectrum that requires special attention as we plan for the future. The mental health system is spread across sectors, creating a confusing system for those who require treatment. It can be tough to navigate for both patients and family doctors. It’s important that all partners come together to make it as easy as possible to get help,” said Dr. Rose Geist, closing keynote speaker at the conference and Chief of Mental Health at Trillium Health Partners.

The purpose of the conference is to identify new trends and developments in the diagnosis and management of mental illness; inform and engage physicians regarding available resources and tools in our community and to determine best practices in navigating through mental health services. Participants were also able to hear first-hand from a panel on their lived experiences with mental health. “Mental illness affects a lot of young people. It is important to hear from those directly impacted by it. I was happy to be able share my first-hand experience with experts and community service providers who are working towards this important issue,” said Arthur Gallant, a youth panel speaker.

“Awareness of the mental health and addiction services and tools in place in our community is critical to support primary care, enhance their knowledge of system partners and ensure better access to services in our community. The Mississauga Halton LHIN is committed to bringing together our health partners, primary care and social services, and fostering a collaborative environment that puts patients first, promotes optimal health, and delivers high quality person-centred care,” Bill McLeod, CEO, Mississauga Halton LHIN.

The conference is a community led initiative in partnership with the United Way of Peel Region, Trillium Health Partners, Peel Children’s Centre, Canadian Mental Health Association, Dr. Colin Saldanha, Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, Peel Newcomer Strategy Group, Peel Addiction, Assessment and Referral Centre and funded by Mississauga Halton LHIN, Pfizer and BMS. It hosted over 100 attendees, primarily family physicians from Peel Region.  The conference presented experts on the topic of youth mental health, cultural sensitivity and mental health, local resources available through the Mississauga Halton LHIN, as well as a panel of speakers with lived experiences.

About United Way of Peel Region
Established in 1967, United Way of Peel Region serves the communities of Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga. Through its Community Fund, United Way invests in services, programs and initiatives that develop resilient people, grow strong families, and build vibrant neighbourhoods and communities. The mission of United Way of Peel Region is to engage with our community, through partnerships, to ensure people are cared for, connected and included.

Media contacts:

Carol Kotacka | United Way of Peel Region | Cell: 416-420-9975 | ckotacka@unitedwaypeel.org | @unitedwaypeel