ENHANCED CARE TO PREVENT MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS
TOTAL FUNDS RECEIVED IN 2021
52% HOSPITAL PROGRAMS
HOSPITAL PROGRAM OVERVIEW
Over the past five years CHEO’s Emergency Department (ED) has seen a dramatic increase in children and youth presenting with suicidal ideation and attempts. In response, CHEO has developed two programs to enhance care and service delivery for children at risk of or in the early stages of mental health challenges. Aided by Family of Support, we are investing in these programs to support more children and families and ensure fewer patients reach a crisis stage.
The Head to Toe program (H2T) introduces suicide screening for all admitted, inpatient youth aged 12 and older using a brief validated tool (Ask Suicide-Screening Questions).
If a patient responds in the affirmative to any of the four questions, nurses ensure that the patient receives a timely mental health assessment.
The Dialectical Behaviour Therapy program (DBT) was developed to address the needs of adolescents who have difficulty regulating their emotions, resulting in chronic or repeated suicidal ideation, self-injury, family conflict and school problems. The CHEO DBT team provides training in the hospital and the community to expand access to DBT treatment.
Both programs continued and grew in 2021. We are grateful to Family of Support for supporting our work in both areas.
H2T: We continue to train registered nurses and registered practical nurses to ensure that they’re equipped to effectively deploy the screening tool. In all, 120 team members were oriented to H2T in 2021. Our ultimate goal is to screen 100% of eligible young people for suicide risk. This year, we achieved a 91% screening rate, an improvement over our 78% rate in the inaugural year of the program and an 11-point improvement over our target rate for 2021 of 80%. We’re proud of our team for continuing to advance this important program even amid the strains across the hospital due to the pandemic.
DBT: The program served 59 patients in 2021, and we were able to train an additional 9 clinicians to support the delivery of the program. DBT remained largely virtual in 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic persisted. A systematic survey of participants found that DBT for adolescents can effectively be delivered as virtual care. Youth, caregivers and providers generally preferred in-person care but were glad to have the virtual option and found it helpful. For most families, accessing the program virtually was more accessible and convenient. Indeed, more patients to whom the program was offered have chosen to participate, perhaps because of convenience.