Pilot project aims to support kids with mental health challenges in times of crisis
Vancouver, May 7, 2019 – Children and youth with psychiatric issues in B.C. now have access to a unique medical identification service to assist first responders and health-care professionals care for them in emergencies.
This pilot initiative, launching today at BC Children’s Hospital in partnership with MedicAlert Foundation Canada and FamilySmart, gives BC Children’s mental health patients the opportunity to enroll with MedicAlert to receive a bracelet or other identification and a custom care plan. Paramedics, police, other first responders and healthcare professionals would then be able to identify the child or youth has a medical condition in an emergency and be able to access their care plan for guidance on how to respond.
Some children and youth with mental health challenges have experienced scary or traumatic encounters with those trying to help in times of crisis. Having a care plan established ahead of time will equip emergency responders and medical personnel with crucial information about the child or youth, including diagnosis, medications, their support network, and effective techniques to calm them.
MedicAlert Foundation Canada provides a hotline for paramedics, police, other emergency responders, as well as healthcare providers so they can access a subscriber’s detailed medical profile and contact information. For almost 60 years, MedicAlert has been protecting Canadians with medical conditions such as allergies and diabetes as well as cognitive conditions such as autism and dementia.
Families can also create a care plan that would meet the individual needs of their child or youth and be accessible to first responders and healthcare providers in an emergency. This service quickly notifies caregivers to inform them of the situation and whereabouts of their loved one.
Hon. Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions – “MedicAlert has made an enormous difference in protecting people with a variety of medical conditions. Now, children and youth with mental health challenges will have the same access to this support as those with any other health condition. This medical identification service can make it easier for children and youth – and their families – to get trauma-informed and appropriate care when they are faced with a medical emergency.”
Dr. Jana Davidson, psychiatrist-in-chief, BC Children’s Hospital – “Children and youth with mental health challenges can be particularly vulnerable in emergency situations. This exciting collaboration has been designed to help first responders and emergency medical personnel provide the best care for our children and youth in the midst of a mental health crisis. By empowering them with the right information, we can help ensure young people in BC receive supportive, appropriate care.”
Francoise Faverjon-Fortin, chief executive officer of MedicAlert Foundation Canada - “We are pleased to be partnering with BC Children’s Hospital and FamilySmart on this initiative to better serve the needs of those with mental health challenges. Access to critical information is invaluable for emergency responders and empowers them to make informed decisions, assisting people living with mental health challenges and potentially saving lives.”
Keli Anderson, president and CEO of FamilySmart and a parent of a child with mental health challenges - “FamilySmart is a partner in this initiative because we are committed to quality experiences and services to enhance child and youth mental health. Significantly, we are launching this pilot on May 7, National Child and Youth Mental Health Day, a day founded by FamilySmart in 2007 to recognize the importance of child and youth mental health.”
Dr. John Tallon, chief medical officer, BC Emergency Health Services – “This will help our paramedics provide the best care possible to these young patients when responding to 911 calls. Paramedics always appreciate being alerted to additional health information, so they can make their patient’s experience better despite the challenging nature of medical emergencies.”
Learn more on the BC Children’s Hospital website
- Children and youth with mental health challenges and their families will have the opportunity to enrol with MedicAlert at time of diagnosis at the BC Children’s Neuropsychiatry Clinic or when discharged from one of BC Children’s three psychiatric inpatient units.
- Children not currently being treated at BC Children’s can enrol by calling MedicAlert: 1-855-348-3353.
- The initiative aims to enrol approximately 100 patients in the pilot phase.
- Enrolment is entirely voluntary.
- Families are encouraged to connect with FamilySmart if they want to talk to another parent about MedicAlert, or get ideas for their child’s care plan.
BC Children’s Hospital, a program of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides expert care for the province’s most seriously ill or injured children, youth and young adults, including newborns. Child and Youth Mental Health provides a diverse range of specialized and one-of-a-kind tertiary mental health and substance use services for children, adolescents and young adults across the province. For more information, visit www.bcchildrens.ca/ or follow us on Twitter @BCChildrensHosp.
MedicAlert Foundation Canada, the largest membership-based registered charity in Canada, is the country’s leading provider of emergency medical information services. MedicAlert is backed by robust electronic health records maintained by medically trained professionals, a state-of-the-art secure database, and a 24/7 emergency hotline that answers calls from emergency responder personnel in 140 languages, all linked to customized identification products for Canadians with medical conditions and special needs.
FamilySmart is a national not-for-profit support organization that is committed to quality experiences and services for child and youth mental health.
Provincial Health Services Authority
PHSA Media line: 778-867-7472
MedicAlert Foundation Canada
Jennifer Randall Nelson