Dr. Steve Mathias discusses youth mental-health services

While the horrifying consequences of untreated mental illness played out from Vancouver to Moncton last week, a committee of MLAs spent a full day listening to people who work on the problem every day.

Politicians on the legislature’s child and youth committee decided to delve into one specific issue — youth mental health. They’re conducting a round of hearings and studies, and the June 11 session was devoted to hearing from doctors and caregivers.

There’s a general view that there are some gaps in the delivery system when it comes to caring for young people struggling with mental illness. But Dr. Steve Mathias, a Vancouver psychiatrist who works with adolescents through an outreach program, made the point more bluntly: “You could argue that it’s not actually a gap. It’s an absence of services.”

Mathias delivered a big-picture view of the situation. About 75 per cent of mental-health problems occur before age 25, and 80 per cent of substance abuse issues start before age 20.

Les Leyne Reports

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