The Moncton mother of a 10-year-old with mental illness is pleading with the province to provide better access to mental health care for children in the province before another child dies by suicide.
“There are nights that I have to wonder if I wake up is he going to be there or is he going to try to harm himself while I am sleeping,” said Katie Vansnick.
“It’s horrifying, it’s scary and it kills me on the inside,” said her son Jakob.
For more than two years now, Jakob has been suffering from depression, ADHD and severe anxiety, said his mother, to the point that he has threatened or attempted to take his own life on multiple occasions.
“I sit soulless and look for any object possible and I will find a way to use it,” said Jakob.
His mother said she doesn’t know where else to turn.
She says her son is being followed by a psychiatrist and a social worker through the provincial Integrated Service Delivery program at his school. But she said she has been unable to have him admitted directly to the Inpatient Youth and Wellness Unit at the Moncton hospital, despite her attempts to have him referred by his psychiatrist.
“I was told that every single time that he becomes suicidal that I am to go to emerg and to pray that the one time that I take him there may be a bed available for him to be admitted,” she said.
According to Horizon Health Network, the unit has been operating at capacity for several months and the health authority confirmed with Global News there is also a waiting list that it continues to manage.
Vansnick said Jakob’s angry outbursts have gotten worse since she first took him to the emergency department at the Moncton hospital last fall.
“He wants to hurt himself and he wants to hurt other people. He attempted to try to hurt his grandmother,” she said.
In February, the province announced a five-year action plan for increasing mental health services across the province by creating walk-in mental health and addiction clinics by October and opening a provincial youth centre in Moncton by 2024.
“I will believe it when I see it,” said Vansnick, who said her son needs in-depth psychiatric treatment and a complete neuropsychological assessment right away and cannot wait for months to access care.
“The psychiatrist told me last week that he put him on the waiting list but he said it could be years.”
The single mom said that she cannot afford a private assessment and fears that her son will hurt himself before he is able to access the treatment he needs.
“Will he even be here in two or three years?”
According to Horizon Health Network, parents and guardians of children/youth suffering from mental health issues can access several supports and services through the provincial Integrated Service Delivery model and multidisciplinary child and youth teams based in each region of the province.
“Once a plan is implemented, and based on the intensity of care required, it may include a request from the team for admission to an inpatient tertiary setting, which can only be done by an attending psychiatrist,” Kris McDavid, senior communication advisor for Horizon Health said in an email to Global News.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
For a directory of support services in your area, visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.
Learn more about how to help someone in crisis here.