VICTORIA - The Province is providing $175,000 to ACT - Autism Community Training - to develop an online training program that will help qualified health professionals to better recognize the mental-health challenges that often accompany Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Children and youth with ASD are often affected by psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorders and attention disorders. Childhood is a time when the proper targeted interventions have the highest potential for positive long-term outcomes. However, it can be challenging for front-line social workers and other health professionals to recognize these co-existing disorders, especially in children and youth with ASD who may have more difficulty communicating or conveying social or emotional cues.
The new training program will consist of video and Internet-based modules for front-line health professionals that will highlight best practices in recognizing, identifying and treating the most common mental-health issues, in order to better support mental wellness in children and youth with ASD and related disorders.
ACT is an information and referral service that supports individuals with ASD and their families throughout British Columbia. MCFD invests $665,000 in ACT annually to provide provincial autism information and support services. ACT also provides an extensive online and in-person training program for families of children with ASD and for community professionals - training that is relevant to a broad range of special needs. Since 2010-11, the Province has invested more than $3.5 million in ACT to help support children and youth with ASD and their families.
Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development -
“Research has shown that people with Autism Spectrum Disorder are at increased risk of also having mental-health challenges like anxiety or depression. Through this investment, professionals will have specific training to help them diagnose these often elusive secondary issues in people with ASD who may not be able to clearly communicate their thoughts and feelings. The ultimate benefit is that - once this new training is developed - more children and youth with ASD will be able to reach their full potential.”
Terry Lake, Minister of Health -
“We are committed to strengthening the system of supports available so that every child in British Columbia receives the care that they need to thrive. This funding will help support children, youth and families by ensuring that health-care providers have access to the information and tools they require to better recognize the mental-health challenges associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
Dr. Anthony J. Bailey, professor and chair of child and adolescent psychiatry, University of British Columbia -
“Young people with ASD have some of the highest rates of mental-health issues in the entire childhood population, and we know that often very treatable conditions are neither identified nor treated adequately. The key to improving the quality of life of these young people is to educate professionals to always be on the lookout for comorbid conditions (as they are very common), to recognize the signs of mental illness in individuals with communication and social difficulties, and to be aware of the full range of environmental, behavioural and pharmaceutical approaches to treatment. The new training resources will make a real difference in these children’s lives.”
- Gobrial and Raghavan (2012) found that children and young people with intellectual disabilities and ASD have high prevalence rates (61%) of mental health problems and that the prevalence rate for anxiety in this population was as high as 33%, highlighting the need for anxiety management and early intervention: http://goo.gl/tzJd1v
- B.C. provides funding to more than 10,600 children and youth diagnosed with ASD and their families. Currently, 1,600 children under the age of six and approximately 9,000 children and youth over the age of six are served, compared to only 600 in 2004.
- The 2015-16 budget for Autism Services is $59.5 million - more than 14 times the 2001 level of $4.1 million.
- For children under age six, families are eligible for $22,000 per year to assist with the cost of autism intervention services (based on best practices) to promote their child’s communication, social-emotional, pre-academic, and functional life-skills development.
- For children age six to 18 years, families are eligible for $6,000 per year to assist with the cost of out-of-school intervention services to promote their child’s communication, social-emotional, academic and functional life skills.
- A youth aged 12/14 to 19 years who is experiencing ASD and mental-health challenges may quality for:
- Health Services’ Dual Diagnosis Mental Health Teams (DDMH)
- Health Services’ Neuropsychiatry outpatient services
- CLBC’s Provincial Assessment Centre (PAC)
- Ministry of Children and Family Development’s community-based Child and Youth Mental Health (CYMH) services.
- Currently, nearly 29,000 children and youth receive CYMH community mental-health services annually - more than double the number who received services in 2003.
- Nearly 84,000 children and youth in British Columbia aged four to 17 years suffer from mental-health issues.
- The Ministry of Children and Family Development invests approximately $93 million annually to address child and youth mental-health and substance-use challenges in B.C. That amount will increase by an additional $1.3 million for fiscal 2015-16.
- Three-quarters of that funding ($70 million) is spent on community-based mental-health services. The remainder is spent on specialized services, including the Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre, mental-health services, and substance-use treatment for youth involved in the justice system.
To find out more about child and youth mental health and substance use in B.C., visit: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/mental_health/index.htm
To find out more about general mental health and substance use in B.C., visit: www.health.gov.bc.ca/healthy-minds/
To view an online map of mental health and substance use services in B.C., visit: http://goo.gl/9TVI0T
To view the Ministry of Health’s Healthy Minds, Healthy People website and report, visit: www.health.gov.bc.ca/healthy-minds/about.html
To find out more about ACT, visit: www.actcommunity.ca/
Ministry of Children and Family Development