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Petition for better emergency mental health care for BC kids

VICTORIA (NEWS1130) – A family on Vancouver Island is calling for more emergency mental health care for kids across the province.

More than 25,000 people have signed a petition, calling on our health minister to close what it calls a serious gap in critical care.

The petition was started Owen Bradley and his wife Kelly of Victoria. They are the parents of an 11-year-old girl who suffers from bi-polar disorder.

Owen says their daughter was sent home from hospital several times, despite being in obvious and violent mental distress.

“After initial intake, there’s not really a comprehensive plan for dealing with a child in a mental health crisis. There’s just the initial emergency intake… they do some testing, and then basically, you’re released,” he tells us.

He explains they want the province to more mental health services for young children.

“The goal is to provide a comprehensive plan for children in mental health crisis that follows through from emergency intake and treatment and into the next step of whatever treatment is most appropriate.”

Owen wants hospitals to start providing in-patient emergency mental health services for kids in crisis.

Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid won’t comment on the Bradley family’s case, but says decisions over whether someone stays in hospital for mental health reasons are made on a case-by-case basis.

“So, those decisions are made by health care professionals, who usually would be be psychiatrists. If there is a crisis, people are not turned away,” she tells News1130.

“We know that a lot of mental health problems start in childhood and in adolescence. Starting very young in preventive programs — we think that’s a place that we really have wanted to invest and that is where some of the investments are,” she adds.

In addition to the thousands who have signed the Bradleys’ petition on change.org and left comments of similar stories.