Montreal Children’s Hospital the ‘SPOT’ for rapid mental health services
by Jordan Stoopler
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the issue of mental health in young people to the forefront. The Montreal Children’s Hospital saw emergency department visits relating to anxiety disorders and suicidal thoughts rise by 35 per cent in the first year of the pandemic alone.
In response to this uptick, the hospital and its Foundation has opened a new outpatient centre geared specifically for those between the ages of 12 and 18 in suicidal crisis dubbed Le SPOT Montreal.
“The centre was created to bridge the gap that existed between the initial visit to the ER by teenagers with suicidal crises and the follow-up with community services,” said Mélanie Bazin, clinical coordinator for Le SPOT. “Because of the pandemic, there have been a lot of delays. We wanted to make sure we were able to provide services quickly.”
Patients can expect to be referred and treated at Le SPOT within 72 hours of their initial visit to the emergency room at the Montreal Children’s, a sharp contrast from the six-month average wait time for services outside this program. Bazin said services are adapted to the individual needs of the patient and their family. Intensive individualized therapy can be provided for up to 12 weeks, as needed.
“Our interdisciplinary team is made up of psychologists, social workers, an occupational therapist, psycho-educators, a psychiatrist and a nurse,” said Bazin. “The entire team is under one roof to make sure the patients receive the care that they need and that they are well-equipped to manage in the community.”
Another important element of the Centre is its commitment to ensuring their patients remain in school and continue their normal routines throughout. Le SPOT liaises with all individual schools in an effort to keep students at ease, no matter their surroundings.
“We work in collaboration with schools for the benefit of the child,” said Bazin. “The school is actively involved to make sure they receive the services they need and are provided the information necessary to create a safety net and accommodations at school.”
Le SPOT hopes to be able to treat 500 teens annually, with the goal of doubling those figures by its second year of operation. $12 million was raised by the Foundation to design and build the centre, with funds secured to operate the centre for the next 10 years.
“We are very fortunate to have leaders who think outside of the box and have put in place a centre that rapidly addresses the needs of the patients,” said Bazin. “Patients, families and the schools are relieved to know that their child or student has access to services during these times of crisis. To be a part of it from the beginning stages is a privilege.”