Community Treatment Services for mental health occupy an important place in the mental health system. The role of community treatment in the prevention of acute emergency department presentations could be enhanced through stronger collaboration with health care settings and dedicated resources to bridge the gap between referral and treatment for non-crisis services.
“Accessing mental health services has saved my life. If I hadn’t gone for help, I’d either not be alive or I’d be living a life of profound turmoil and sadness. DBT, CBT, Music Therapy, one-on-one sessions, groups, online forums, Wikipedia, Facebook, and crisis lines are the things that have helped me through rough patches time and time again.”
– Community Member
“ADVOCACY. Our clients (for the most part) cannot speak for themselves to clearly identify what supports they require. Without our support, we see them often “falling between the cracks” and going without essential care simply because the system is designed to turn people away.”
– Mental health care worker
Community Mental Health Service Use
While there are several community agencies with programs and services related to mental health and mental illness, there are two agencies in Lambton that offer the majority of general community-based services related to mental illness.
The Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton-Kent branch (CMHA) provides services primarily for adults. The following provides a snapshot of clients receiving services in Lambton between May 1, 2017 and March 28, 2018.
CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION – LAMBTON-KENT BRANCH
The Canadian Mental Health Association – Lambton-Kent branch (CMHA) provides services primarily for adults. The following provides a snapshot of clients receiving services at the Sarnia location between May 1, 2017 and March 28, 2018.
CLIENTS RECEIVED SERVICE IN 2017/2018
Client Age Group (%)
Top 3 Diagnosis
Top 3 Services Accessed
Source: Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton-Kent Branch
ST. CLAIR CHILD & YOUTH SERVICES
St. Clair Child and Youth Services (SCCYS) provides prevention, assessment and treatment options for children and youth from birth to 18 years. The following provides a snapshot of clients receiving services at St. Clair Child and Youth Services or through SCCYS-funded programs (Huron House Boys Home, Sarnia-Lambton Rebound).
Similar to emergency department visits, anxiety was a common problem among Lambton children and youth presenting for community mental health services.
CLIENTS RECEIVED SERVICE IN 2016/2017
Number of Children and youth accessing St. Clair Child and Youth Services, 2016/17
Most Common Presenting Problems
While emergency department data provide a look at serious self-harm incidents and suicide attempts, community data show that a larger number of children have early warning signs, such as suicidal thoughts. In 2016, there were 55 self-harm related emergency department visits (45 unique patients) among those 19 years and under , yet 295 individuals presented to SCCYS with suicidal thoughts.
These data also capture problems that would not typically be a cause for attending the emergency department or being admitted to hospital. For example, over 500 children and youth presented with “emotional dysregulation”. Prompt attention to and support for these early symptoms may help to prevent future mental illness and highlights the role of early access to community services in the prevention and treatment of mental illness.