Child & Adolescent Mental Health: Filling the Gap
Anara was 17 when she landed in the Jack & Pat Kay Emergency Psychiatric Unit (EPU) for the second time in her life. She was struggling with severe social anxiety, mood swings, difficulty in her relationships with her friends and family, high school stress, and traits of personality disorder. Years before, Anara had made a serious suicide attempt by overdose, and she found herself feeling once again overcome by her deteriorating mental health, though there were no safety concerns this time. Anara was referred to the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Urgent Care Clinic (UCC): a preventative program offering tailored outpatient care to young patients who arrive in the EPU and need additional support outside of inpatient care.
Her UCC team at Humber River Health provided psychoeducation, giving Anara and her family the information and support they needed to understand and cope with her mental illness. They introduced distress tolerance techniques, helping improve her ability to manage emotional incidents in her life. They also evaluated and discussed her pharmacological options, and Anara chose to try an antidepressant.
Over the years, the UCC has seen many complex patients like Anara, but with the pandemic came an added complexity of youth with learning concerns who have yet to receive the help they have needed for years.
“Our clinic is helping to fill a gap that has always been present in the community, and despite huge system issues, we are helping to improve lives,” says Dr. Jacqueline Holiff, a psychiatrist who has been part of the UCC since its inception.
With the help of the UCC, Anara was able to connect with counselling and gain a clearer picture of her mental health struggles. As she improved, she was placed with a caseworker through a community children’s mental health organization and discharged from the UCC. Every couple of months, she pays a visit to Dr. Holiff, where her medication can continue to be managed.
Anara has now finished high school and plans to attend university next year.
Please note: Names have been changed for the comfort of Anara and her family
Humber River Health Foundation would like to thank Jack and Pat Kay for their generous support of Humber’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Urgent Care Clinic! Thank you for making a difference in the lives of so many young patients like Anara.