Parents of 14-year-old with mental health issues see shortfalls in system

WATCH: The parents of a 14-year-old who ran into roadblocks getting admitted into the IWK for mental health help say the province’s mental health system is failing our youth. Julia Wong reports.

HALIFAX – The parents of a 14-year-old who was initially denied mental health treatment at the IWK Health Centre said they see shortfalls in the province’s mental health system and are calling for improvements.

READ MORE: Calls grow for province to revamp mental health system after #HelpLily

Lily Morinville has fetal alcohol syndrome disorder and has cognitive and developmental challenges, said her mother Vicky Morinville.

The teen was admitted for care at the IWK on Saturday then discharged. On Sunday, Vicky said Lily’s behaviour escalated and she was taken to the IWK again.

“We ended up being discharged again. We were told she was not a danger to herself or anyone else and so we were discharged,” Vicky said.

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However, she said Lily started acting out. Police became involved as her daughter became more combative. The teen was taken into a holding area and was eventually admitted to the IWK early Monday morning.

“They became concerned she was going to hurt herself so they took her back,” Vicky said.

Her parents said Lily’s care since then has been “extraordinary”.

“She’s been closely monitored. She was given a very thorough assessment. She’s still extremely agitated. She’s still not herself at all,” Vicky said.

“She’s safe and after our visit [Tuesday] she seems fairly satisfied,” Sylvain said.
“She’s content right now to be [there] and well taken care of.”

But the parents are disappointed by the hoops they had to jump through to get their daughter they care she needs.

“I’ve been told over and over again that she doesn’t fit the criteria for this or that [treatment] program,” Vicky said.

“It’s extremely difficult.”

The couple said the need for mental health services is outstripping supply and while there is more awareness, they said the province isn’t prepared to deal with demand.

“The stigma has fallen out so people with mental health are [not] shy [anymore to] say ‘Hey I have a problem.’ I think they’re showing up en masse and the system can’t handle it,” Sylvain said.
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“I don’t think the system has caught up with the need,” said Vicky.

“There needs to be a designated place where people in crisis can go rather than just going to the local hospital emergency room because that does take time and resources away.”

Health minister Leo Glavine said it is too early to say whether there will be a review of Lily’s incident saying he has yet to review the file.

However, he acknowledges there are shortfalls in the system and said he is committed to improving it in the coming year.

“Is the patient load, the care required outstripping the demand? I know it’s not at the same level of need or wait list right across the province,” he said.

“It’s a matter of looking at the areas where we do need further resources and I will say we do have some gaps, some areas where we could have more people, more professionals as part of a clinical team to deal with our mental health issues.”

When asked by Global News whether there are enough programs to meet demand, Glavine said a health services review is currently taking place as a result of the health authority amalgamation.

“What should we be doing where? What more do we need to be doing?” he said.

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“I want to know what is it that we can do to absolutely make a difference. What is that one, two, three that we need to implement and make the investment for better outcomes.”

As for Vicky and Sylvain, the family said there is no time frame on when Lily will be discharged and they don’t know what will happen to her when she does.

“I haven’t a clue what we are going to do.”