The Specialized Centre for Adolescent Mental Health of the MCH opens its doors

The Specialized Centre for Adolescent Mental Health of the MCH opens its doors

18 March 2022

The Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) is proud to announce the opening of the Specialized Centre for Adolescent Mental Health (Le SPOT Montréal), one of the largest ambulatory centres in Canada for teens in suicidal crisis. The centre officially opens on March 21. Annually, Le SPOT Montréal will support 1000 teens who have contemplated or attempted suicide.

Le SPOT Montréal is a teen-friendly centre in a calming setting. It is located within walking distance of The Montreal Children’s Hospital. It offers an alternative to hospitalization, allowing teenagers to continue with school and their other regular activities.

Le SPOT Montréal’s multidisciplinary team will use evidence-based treatments to provide adolescents aged 12-18 and their families with up to 12 weeks of intensive, individualized therapy to help alleviate the suicidal crisis and offer coping skills to better manage psychological distress. Le SPOT Montréal’s team will also ensure its patients and families transition smoothly to community services for ongoing support.

“Thanks to Le SPOT Montréal, The Montreal Children’s Hospital can now provide adolescents in suicidal crisis with quick and intensive therapeutic support on an outpatient basis. We will not only help prevent suicide but also deal with the chronicity of mental health problems,” said Dr. Martin Gignac, Head of the Psychiatry Department at The Montreal Children’s Hospital and leader of Le SPOT Montréal project. “Let’s not forget these young people are the adults of tomorrow. It’s important to act before more serious conditions take hold permanently and undermine their ability to develop as citizens and as parents.”

An alarming number of teenagers are suffering from mental health issues.

Since the pandemic’s start, the distress rates of children and teens have grown at an alarming rate. Between 2020 and 2021, the number of young people and their families who turned to The Montreal Children’s Hospital Emergency Department (ED) for psychosocial and psychological problems, ranging from anxiety disorders to suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, jumped 35 percent. In a report released in late January, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec found the number of teenage girls who visited Quebec EDs after attempting to take their own lives rose by 23 percent in 2021.

Delayed care leads to life-long mental health problems.

On average, the wait time for community-based mental health services is 180 days. About 20 percent of the teens in crisis treated in The Montreal Children’s Hospital’s ED will return within 30 days in a new state of crisis, including those who have been able to access follow-up services in the community. This situation occasionally contributes to overcrowding in the hospital’s psychiatric unit.

Le SPOT Montréal’s team of mental health professionals aims to evaluate its young patients within 72 hours of being referred by the specialists in The Montreal Children’s Hospital ED.

Agents of change

Le SPOT Montréal accompanies adolescents in suicidal crisis who do not require hospitalization but need quick access to specialized mental health treatment that offers continuity and sustained care to help them manage during a crisis and learn coping strategies to better manage stress and anxiety.

“In line with our commitment to create positive social impact in the communities where we live and work, and to support our youth who continue to be impacted by the changing world around us, RBC is proud to donate a $2-million gift that will go towards the creation of Le SPOT Montréal,” explained Nadine Renaud-Tinker, Regional President, RBC Royal Bank – Quebec. “The RBC Youth Mental Well-being Project is dedicated to providing better access to mental health services for youth and families in need. The centre’s collaboration with front-line mental health services will ensure that youth will continue to receive care in the community once their crisis has passed.”

“I am impressed by Dr. Gignac and his team’s entrepreneurial spirit,” said Jonathan Amiel, head of the Amiel Family Foundation, former Chair of The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation Board of Directors and current member of the Campaign Cabinet of the Foundation’s major campaign. “They looked at the needs of teenagers and the limitations of the healthcare system and developed a new outpatient approach to help vulnerable teens in suicidal crisis. The clinic’s vision and mission are solid, and that is why my family and I are proud to donate $2 million to Le SPOT Montréal.”

Le SPOT Montréal will provide:                                                              

  • Early intervention to rapidly stabilize a suicidal adolescent’s mental state
  • Rapid assessment of the youth and family members
  • Intensive supervision adapted to the needs of the adolescent and their family through flexible follow-up for up to 12 weeks.
  • Individual, family and group therapy to mitigate a future suicidal crisis and improve communication with parents, siblings and others, and initiate recovery through workshops and information sessions
  • Culturally sensitive support and programs adapted for a diverse range of youth (LGBTQ+, Indigenous peoples, visible minorities, new immigrants)
  • Targeted liaison and interventions in the youth’s environment (school, leisure) to support reintegration into regular activities
  • Smooth and timely transition to community services at the end of the program to ensure continuity of care
  • Support to community mental health services to strengthen partnerships
  • Research opportunities to advance the understanding of pediatric mental health issues and to pioneer new treatment protocols and best practices for teens in suicidal crisis
  • Educational and internship opportunities for the next generation of pediatric psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals

The power of philanthropy

Upon learning about Le SPOT Montréal, singer and song writing sensation Charlotte Cardin said in a video, “As someone who, myself, needed access to mental health resources on several occasions during my adolescence, I salute and recognize this initiative, especially since we often tend to emphasize the importance of the physical health of our youth, which is obviously very important, but we sometimes forget to what extent offering mental health resources is absolutely essential for our youth.” (View Ms. Cardin’s video here @LeChildren).

The cost to design and build Le SPOT Montréal and provide its wide range of services is $12 million over ten years.

“The outpouring of donor support for this project has been incredible. In a mere six months, the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation raised $12 million for Le SPOT Montréal,” explained Renée Vézina, president of the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation. “This exceptional support ensures teens in suicidal crisis will get help quickly from the hospital’s specialized team. Our donors are saving young lives.”

Le SPOT Montréal is one of the major projects funded by The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Unexpected Ways to Heal campaign, which aims to raise $200 million for the hospital by 2026. It is the most ambitious fundraising objective for a pediatric hospital in Quebec’s history.

The Montreal Children’s Hospital and The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation gratefully thank the following donors for their generous support of Le SPOT Montréal:

RBC Foundation, The Amiel Family Foundation, Fondation Marcelle et Jean Coutu, the P.K. Subban Foundation, The Rossy Foundation, Thistledown Foundation, The Tenaquip Foundation, The Vicki & Stan Zack Family Foundation, the Al Asmar Family, the Birks Family Foundation, Claret Asset Management, Fondation Famille Godin, Frédéric Loiselle, Sun Life, Behaviour Interactif Inc., Robert Elvidge and Family, La Fondation Famille Léger, and Chandra Magill and James Hoover.

Advice for parents worried about their child’s mental state

Parents concerned by their teen’s mental state should always take the situation seriously. The following resources will be able to direct the parents appropriately:

  • Info-Santé: 811
  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868; free online counselling 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for children and teens.
  • Suicide Action Montreal: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)

For more information:

  • a site devoted entirely to teen mental health, including tools, short videos and useful apps
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