At the most recent MPA Advisory Committee meeting this spring, Dr. Tony Pignatiello reminded us that until about 600 years ago, artists typically depicted children as miniaturized adults in their paintings. Today, we know that children are not ‘little adults’.
We also know that mental illness in children is often tied to their physical health. Through the work of the MPA, we are taking into account not only their unique vulnerabilities and health risks, but also caring for them more holistically.
For example, the rate of depression in children and adolescents is much higher in those who have also been diagnosed with diabetes, compared to rates of depression in the general paediatric population. Mental illness is often a barrier to optimal recovery if not caught early on. However these children and youth, with their families, are navigating a health care system that has not traditionally been set up to care for both their mental and physical illnesses together.
It is estimated that Ontario spends $2.75 billion in direct care for individuals with combined mental and physical illness. The MPA’s primary goal is to bridge the gap between these services, and provide timely access to both mental and physical care, especially for our children and youth and their families, so that we can give them the best possible start.
On that note, I also invite you to attend our annual MPA Conference, taking place this year on October 5-6, 2016, titled “Collaborative approaches for children and youth with co-existing physical and mental health conditions." For more information about registration and the program agenda, please visit www.medpsychalliance.ca, or stay tuned for more updates on Twitter @MedPsychNews.
Benoit H. Mulsant, MD, MS, FRCPC
MPA Executive Director
Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto