Youth mental health services lacking, says Abbotsford mom

Worried about at-risk kids being released too soon from hospital

  • Sep. 25, 2015 9:00 a.m.

An Abbotsford mom is worried about kids with mental health issues being released from hospital even though they are at risk to themselves.

by Monique Tamminga, Black Press

Fraser Health Authority CEO Michael Marchbank said hospitals across the region are seeing a significant increase in the number of youth in need of psychiatric services.

It’s an area of health care that needs to be examined, he said, speaking at the Fraser Health board meeting in Langley on Wednesday.

Marchbank was responding to the comments of one mother who expressed her frustration with the lack of psychiatric services available – services  she says her daughter desperately needs but isn’t getting.

The board meeting, held at Cascades Casino Hotel and Convention Centre, was open to the public and included a question period.

Abbotsford mom Jackie Gettings asked why teens with psychiatric problems, including her daughter, are not being helped and are instead being released even though they are often a risk to themselves.

The BC Coroners Service previously announced it is planning an inquest into the suicides of three people – Brian Geisheimer, 30; Sebastien Abdi, 19; and Sarah Charles, 41 – who took their lives after being released from Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

That inquest is scheduled to begin May 16 in Burnaby.

The system is failing kids across the region, said Gettings to the board.

“The second time my daughter was admitted, I begged your doctors to keep my daughter, even for three days, to stabilize her,” she said.

“I told the doctors, it is on them for what happens to my daughter if they release her, and they still did. Within one week she was missing.

“I want some accountability. Your criteria to keep my daughter needs to change.”

Last week, Abbotsford Police put out an alert after Gettings’ daughter went missing while she was under serious mental distress. She was located in Surrey.

Gettings said her daughter had been admitted to Abbotsford Regional Hospital twice within a three-week period following two suicide attempts. Despite her mother’s pleas to commit her under the Mental Health Act, doctors released the teen.

Parents across B.C. have been calling on health authorities to do more for youth struggling with suicidal thoughts and mental health issues, including psychotic episodes.

“It’s great there are seven beds in Surrey, but what about Abbotsford, what about Langley and all the other communities?” she asked.

Gettings said no one followed up with her after her daughter’s second suicide attempt.

It’s rare for anyone to be committed under the Mental Health Act, said one doctor, speaking from the audience on Wednesday.

He said there are strict criteria when it comes to committing someone against their will.

“It requires two physicians to certify someone against their will. With teens, we frequently discharge them and try to connect them to programs like Youth In Crisis.”

However, Gettings noted such programs are voluntary, meaning her daughter cannot be forced to take part.

“This is an area we need to look into. No one is disputing this is an issue,” Marchbank responded.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Several Abbotsford schools record COVID-19 exposures in October

Two secondary schools, one middle school and two elementary schools have virus exposure

Bateman’s Olafsen commits to Windsor Lancers football program

Timberwolves all-star heading to Ontario in 2021, moving from defence to offence

Apartment fire on Sunday displaces 82 Mission residents

Extensive damage to fifth floor, fire not considered suspicious at this time

FVRD to reopen corporate office on a limited basis

Fraser Valley Regional District visitors will be screened and asked to maintain physical distancing

Epilepsy education centre in Abbotsford holds online art classes

Goal is to improve communication and reduce isolation during pandemic

‘First guys out:’ Western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Trial dates set in White Rock manslaughter case

Proceedings against Ross Banner, 71, set for June 2021 in Surrey Provincial Court

Glasgow found not guilty of trying to murder transit cop in Surrey

Transit Police Constable Josh Harms was shot Jan. 30, 2019 at Scott Road SkyTrain Station

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Most Read