Province expands Tele-Mental Health to Cranbrook
Children and teens with mental-health challenges can now more easily access the specialized supports they need, thanks to the expansion of Tele-Mental Health videoconferencing services to Cranbrook.
“Tele-Mental Health allows young people to connect directly with a psychiatrist – in real time – without having to leave their home communities,” said Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux. “Before Tele-Mental Health, children and youth in the Cranbrook area who were dealing with mental health challenges had to travel to receive the services they need, or wait for a health professional to visit their community.”
This Tele-Mental Health service allows children, youth and their families to meet with a qualified psychiatrist through the latest video and sound technology. Each videoconferencing appointment is private, secure and confidential, and can be stopped at any time at the request of the child, youth or their parents/guardians. Both the psychiatrist and child or youth can ask questions throughout the appointment, which creates a comfortable atmosphere where information can flow, just like it would in a face-to-face meeting, outlined a joint Ministry of Children and Family Development and Provincial Health Services Authority press release.
“It’s crucial that families with children experiencing mental health concerns have access to the most effective health services,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “By providing innovative care through Telehealth, doctors and other care professionals can consult with specialists and provide the best care possible, no matter where patients live.”
In Cranbrook, the service is used bi-monthly at the local Ministry of Children and Family Development office, with the psychiatrist visiting the child or youth in their home community every other month. The latest expansion of Tele-Mental Health to Cranbrook is part of the ministry’s ongoing work to launch the service in more rural and remote communities throughout the province.
“The expansion of Tele-Mental Health to Cranbrook is making a big difference to local families,” said Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett. “It causes fewer disruptions to families’ schedules and reduces the anxiety and cost that come from having to travel back and forth to appointments.”
Tele-Mental Health service is available to young people who are receiving community-based Child and Youth Mental Health (CYMH) services through the ministry. Access to the service is determined after an initial assessment at one of the 78 CYMH intake clinics in the province or by contacting the local CYMH team directly.
“BC Children’s Hospital Child and Adolescent Tele-Mental Health/Outreach program is delighted to be working with the Cranbrook Child and Youth Mental Health Team to increase access to specialized child and adolescent mental-health consultation for children, youth and families in the Cranbrook area through the development of this new partnership,” said Dr. Jana Davidson, psychiatrist in chief at the BC Children’s Hospital.
To date, the Tele-Mental Health partnership between the Ministry of Children and Family Development and the Provincial Health Services Authority has resulted in the service being launched in eight northern communities, including Prince Rupert, Smithers, Terrace, Kitimat, Hazelton, Burns Lake, Vanderhoof and New Aiyansh. These sites also serve families in eight other surrounding communities. The service is accessible at ministry offices, as well as Northern and Interior Health Authority sites. A further 22 communities have indicated interest in Tele-Mental Health.
To ensure the province’s range of mental-health and substance-use programs work effectively together, the Province is developing an integrated, cross-government mental-health and substance-use strategy for British Columbia. A priority within the strategy is to address key gaps in the current system and ensure individuals and families can access support services early, before they find themselves in a crisis.
Currently, more than 27,000 children and teens receive community mental-health services annually – approximately double the number that received services in 2003.
Above photo: Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Health Terry Lake, Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett and two members of the Cranbrook CYMH team.