First Nations, low income kids in Alberta turn to ERs for mental health care - InfoNews

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First Nations, low income kids in Alberta turn to ERs for mental health care

June 11, 2012 - 12:08 PM

TORONTO - A new study says children and teens from First Nations communities and families on welfare were more likely to use hospital emergency departments for mental health crises than other kids their age.

The work looked at records for hospitals in Alberta and the authors say their findings can't be used to say what is going on in the rest of the country.

First Nations girls were about three times more likely to go to the emergency department for mental health care than girls from families that were not First Nations or which didn't receive government subsidies.

And with First Nations boys, the rate was about four times higher.

Lead author Amanda Newton of the University of Alberta says she and her colleagues cannot tell from the figures if kids from families with more resources are getting help elsewhere, from places or services not available to First Nations teens or youth from families on welfare.

The study is published in this week's Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Newton admits she was surprised by the magnitude of the findings.

"We were expecting differences but we weren't expecting to see such gaps," says the assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta.

Children and teens who turned to the emergency department for mental health care suffered a spectrum of problems, from attempted suicides to accidents caused by drinking or drug use. But the majority of complaints were about anxiety and stress.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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