Child and youth mental health beds in Surrey will serve Abbotsford kids

Abbotsford hospital sees 128 kids admitted per year for mental health issues

Stan Kuperis

Stan Kuperis

Every year at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital, there about 128 admissions of children and youth into inpatient beds to address mental health issues, according to a Fraser Health representative.

Stan Kuperis, director of mental health and substance use, presented information about child and youth mental health to council on Monday, while speaking about the new Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Stabilization Unit (CAPSU) coming to Surrey in September of 2016.

Kuperis said the kids and youth who are heading to the hospital can be admitted to pediatric care, the adult psychiatry unit or simply into the emergency room to await resources to address their issues.

“It’s fairly significant numbers for Abbotsford.”

The CAPSU beds will be a more appropriate facility to address some of those cases, said Kuperis, and while it will bring 10 mental health beds to Surrey, it will serve kids in Abbotsford as well.

The CAPSU project provides short-stay assessment and crisis stabilization for kids ages six to 17 in acute psychiatric crisis, requiring urgent hospital intervention. The length of stay will be between five and seven days and patients will have access to a specialized multi-disciplinary team with dedicated child and adolescent psychiatrists.

Kuperis said CAPSU will help address the wait times for child and youth mental health (CYMH) services.

Half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by 14 and three-quarters have begun by 24. Early recognition and appropriate response can minimize the impact of mental illness, said Kuperis.

There has been an increase in the admission of children and youth to hospital for mental health issues in the Fraser Health region, jumping from 677 in 2011/12 to 998 in 2012/13 and 1,206 in 2013/14.

Kuperis said the increase may be explained by the increase of mental health literacy and awareness, but added that there is also an increasing amount of stress placed on kids.

He said Fraser Health is responding with increased collaboration with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, local family practices and hospitals, and establishing the CAPSU is part of their efforts.

British Columbia’s CYMH system has drawn criticsm for years, according to a recent two-part series in The News.

Of more than 80,000 kids with mental disorders in British Columbia, less than one-third receive help, and many parents of kids who do receive assistance complain about having to navigate an array of barriers to access programs. Meanwhile, funding for CYMH services have failed to keep up with inflation or the number of families seeking help.

For more information read the first and second parts of an Abbotsford News series, Kids in Crisis.