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New child and adolescent mental health inpatient unit fundraiser kicks off

Hyundai Canada has announced a $500,000 donation to the Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation, kicking off a fundraising push for a new, six-bed child and adolescent mental health inpatient unit at Oak Valley Health’s Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH).

Hyundai Canada’s top brass present MSH leaders with a cheque for $500,000.

The unit would expand the existing outpatient services and fill a critical gap in child and youth mental health support. The project has been in the works for the past decade but has struggled to secure adequate funding to launch a fundraiser.

The need for paediatric mental health beds and supporting services has increased substantially across the GTA in recent years and the Eastern York Region North Durham Ontario Health Team, which serves 18 communities within its catchment area, currently does not have any acute care services for children and adolescents, leaving a significant gap in the region.

More than 35-40 children come to MSH’s Emergency Department every month in need of acute mental health care. Those needing admission wait 10-18 hours for placement. In the fiscal year of 2023/2024, approximately 61 per cent of emergency mental health adolescent admissions were transferred to external facilities, an increase of approximately 20 per cent over the previous fiscal year.

“Since the pandemic, there have been more kids in crisis than I have ever seen in my career. I can’t think of a family in this day and age that hasn’t been impacted. The need for this unit at MSH is something we have to address as our community gets bigger,” says Dr. Rus Sethna, chief of psychiatry at Oak Valley Health. “As a community, we need to band together to continue to destigmatize mental illness, and work together to bring innovation and mental health care to our local community.”

The six-bed child and adolescent mental health inpatient unit reflects the community’s need, with capacity based on an average inpatient stay of 21 days. In adding inpatient services, MSH aims to ensure timely access to care for patients in crisis and improve patient outcomes. In tandem with the existing outpatient services, the new inpatient unit will improve continuity of care and is expected to decrease the risk of readmission by ensuring ongoing access to support post-discharge, including one-on-one counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy groups, family therapy, medication management and more.

“Supporting today’s youth for their success tomorrow is one of the core tenets of Hyundai’s larger ethos of ‘progress for humanity,’” says Kirk Merrett, Hyundai Canada’s director of human resources and administration. “Every child deserves to be able to access the support they need within their local community. We are thankful and fortunate that we can support the community through the Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation and help realize a goal that is long overdue.”

“Hyundai truly is a shining example of what corporations can accomplish through philanthropy. We know that their generosity will be the catalyst that inspires the support of our community and raises awareness for this special cause,” says Suzette Strong, CEO of Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation.

The hospital’s Child and Adolescent Services outpatient mental health program facilitates approximately 7,200 paediatric patient visits annually. MSH also provides an intensive day treatment program, the Adolescent Mental Health Day Hospital Program, for teens suffering from severe anxiety and/or depression whose school attendance or performance has been significantly undermined by symptoms, which in the fiscal year of 2022-2023 facilitated treatment for 1,180 teens. The multidisciplinary team at MSH’s Child and Adolescent Services provides evidence-based therapy approaches, including mindfulness, art and play therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy and group sessions such as Worry Busters, a specialized group therapy program for children aged 9-13 experiencing anxiety.

For more information about the fundraising initiative and to donate, visit www.mshf.on.ca


Photo: MSHF CEO Suzette Strong, mental health advocate Luther Wood and Hyundai Canada CEO Don Romano pose for a photo in front of some of the creative pieces produced by young patients who struggle with mental health challenges.

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