Currently, one in five children under the age of 18 is affected with mental health problems. An even greater concern is that approximately 85 per cent of these youth will not receive the treatment they require in a timely fashion. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (2009), Ontario has a fragmented system of mental health services and supports, particularly when considering the northern and rural regions of the province. According to the Ministry of Northern Development, northern Ontario is comprised of 145 municipalities, 106 First Nations, and 10 territorial districts. Although individuals living in northern Ontario comprise a small percentage of the population, according to a Canadian Community Health survey (2002), youth struggling with mental health issues in northern, rural, and remote First Nation communities often have the added burden of being unable to access services near their home.
The Hospital for Sick Children TeleLink Mental Health Program in Toronto has been successfully providing distance psychiatric mental health assessment, consultations and education using state-of-the-art communications technology for the last decade. The program has received positive feedback from clients in remote regions of northern Ontario and First Nation communities who otherwise would not have access to qualified child psychiatrists. Based on their experience, it became clear that psychological services, including comprehensive psychological assessments, were greatly lacking and desperately needed. The current Telepsychology program and practice was developed to fill this need.
The mandate of TeleLink and Telepsychology is to increase the clinical capacity of professionals working in rural children’s mental health centres, thus expanding their scope of expertise and quality of service. In keeping with the mandate, the Telepsychology program works closely with Psychometrists from a variety of remote regions to ensure reliable test administration, quality of service, clinical consultation, supervision and capacity building to under-serviced children’s mental health community agencies and their clients.
Access to psychology services and comprehensive assessments are now available to these remote agencies and geography is no longer a barrier to this specialized and much needed service. Our goal for the TeleLink program is to provide seamless, collaborative approach to children and their families by working closely with communities and mental health providers. Our program fills a desperate need for a core set of mental health services that is accessible and responsive to all youth.
For further information or for any inquiries, please contact Karen Fennell by phone at 416-813-1670 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org