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Clinic Appointments

This section has information to help you and your family prepare for treatment through our outpatient clinics.
About

Our services are for children and youth with complex mental health and substance use concerns who live in BC and the Yukon. These are young people who have not responded to treatment programs and services in their community.

We work with children and youth (up to and including age 18) and their families/caregivers, health care professionals, community agencies and schools. Our team provides consultation on a wide variety of mental health concerns, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Mood disorders
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • ADHD
  • Disruptive behaviour disorders
  • Neurodevelopmental conditions (i.e. autism, tic disorders, developmental differences)
  • Early childhood mental health problems 
  • Gender Dysphoria
  • Somatization and mental health symptoms related to medical illness, Post traumatic, stress and grief reactions
  • Concurrent disorders (Mental health and substance use related concerns)
  • Self-injurious behaviors
  • Psychotic symptoms
  • Metabolic mental health support

Outpatient services means your child will have appointments with members of our team based on the treatment that is recommended. 

Our outpatient programs are offered at specialized clinics. They provide assessments, consultation, and treatment that is specialized for you or your child's needs and challenges.  

The appointments may be in person - you or your child will come to BC Children's Hospital for an appointment but will not stay overnight at the hospital - or you may have a virtual appointment in a local healthcare setting or your own home.

To access our mental health services, you must be referred by a health care provider such as a community psychiatrist, pediatrician or family doctor (GP). 

Who we see

We provide mental health assessment, medication review, and short term treatment for BC and Yukon children and youth up to and including age 18. Our main role is to provide consultation for children and youth with complex mental health concerns who have not responded to community treatment.

Please note: We don't provide:

  • Autism assessments
  • Assessments of how someone learns (psychoeducational assessments)
  • Assessments for medical-legal purposes, including custody and access

Services we offer

Here you can find information on the services our oupatient programs provide.

‎At a mental health assessment, we gather information to better understand your child and develop a care plan that best meets their needs. The assessment may take one or more appointments with our team members. At these meetings, we go over the information you submitted in the Mental Health Registry [VS1] and ask about your goals and concerns. We ask about your child's strengths and interests as well as the problems and concerns that led to the assessment. We also ask questions about your child's medical and mental health history, overall development, and their social and family history. 


The assessment may include observation, play, art, and questionnaires. In some cases, there is a physical examination or request to do specific tasks. It is also standard to request information, with consent, from other important people in the child's life, such as teachers or other caregivers.

‎Our team will provide a diagnosis after the initial assessment. 

‎We will recommend the best treatment options to you and your community care provider. Our team may also provide treatment depending on the diagnosis and level of severity. Treatment may include group therapy and medication management for a limited time. Individual or family therapy is not usually offered. More often, we recommend therapy and support in your community.

As a family member, you play a critical role in your child or youth's treatment. We aim to create a treatment plan that works for your family. We know that many families of youth with mental illness face similar challenges, so we offer a number of parent education resources, groups and events. We work closely with the Kelty Mental Health Resource Center that offers access to Parents In Residence (PiRs). These parents have experience raising children with mental health and substance use disorders.

Our team members provide consultation with care providers to better meet the needs of children and youth struggling with mental illness. We also often refer providers to our Compass team to offer support 

Our health care teams include psychiatrists, psychologists, and clinical social workers. Some also include occupational therapists, nurses, pediatricians, and speech language pathologists. ‎



Assessment & treatment

This is what you can expect when you or your child has been referred to our mental health outpatient program(s).

Before assessment & treatment

We will send you a link to our online forms.  Please complete all forms with as much information as you can, as soon as possible. The information will help us provide the best care possible for your child or youth. It is very helpful for older children and teens to complete their section of the forms as well. If requested, please email, fax, mail or bring in all relevant medical and mental health reports. You may be asked for school reports, individual education plans, psychology assessments, or any other relevant medical documents that are not already in your child's BCCH hospital record.

We want your appointment to be comfortable for you and your child. If you have concerns about the appointment, please let us know ahead of time (for example, if you are worried your child might get anxious or upset). We will work with you and your family to make sure your appointment goes as smoothly as possible. 

In the time leading up to your appointment, if things get worse, please talk to your family doctor or community care provider. If there is a major change, ask them to call our clinic to discuss. If you have any safety concerns, please go to your local hospital Emergency Room (ER) or Child and Youth Mental Health (CYMH) Intake Clinic. 

If you have any other questions or concerns, please call our mental health reception line at 604-875-2010 and speak to one of our intake clerks or nurse practitioners.

Preparing for assessment

Only one family member living with the child may attend an in person appointment (during COVID-19). But, we value input from all adults that care for the child and may arrange a time for a virtual meeting with other caregivers. If the assessment is virtual, it is best to have all adult caregivers available for the first appointment (for example, all parents, foster parents or legal guardians). If this isn't possible, we may book a time for a virtual meeting with other caregivers, as appropriate.

During assessment

For the first appointment, we usually see children and youth with a parent or caregiver. We also interview the child separately. Young children may not have a separate interview and older teens may be seen on their own for much of the assessment. We may also interview parents and caregivers separately during the first appointment or at a follow-up meeting. 

The first appointment may take from 1 ½  to 2 hours. In some cases, it takes several appointments to complete the assessment.

If your child or youth needs something to do during the appointment, please bring your own toys to in-person visits, and have them available and close by during virtual visits. It is normal for many children and youth to play, draw or use toys during the interviews. Play and drawing are often part of the assessment process. Sometimes a child or youth will want to use a personal electronic device during the appointment. That can be useful at times, like when they are waiting while a parent or caregiver is interviewed. But, these devices should not be used while the child or youth is being interviewed unless it is discussed with the clinic ahead of time.

After assessment

When the assessment is complete, we discuss the results with you, the child or youth, and the family. We answer any questions and usually provide a diagnosis. We also recommend treatment options with suggestions for where this might take place. Treatment is usually provided by health care providers in your community.

We do offer a small number of group treatment programs and educational sessions for specific mental health concerns. You can ask us if there are any group treatment options for you or your child. 

We will complete a report for your child's hospital chart and send copies to your family doctor and other members of your health care team. If you would like a copy of the report, please tell us.

Treatment recommendations

The treatments we recommend are specific to you or your child. They are based on the assessment and your goals and preferences. Treatments may include:

 

‎Mental health treatment in BC and the Yukon is usually provided by family doctors and pediatricians. They work along with mental health teams and community agencies that receive public funding, as well as with some providers that charge fees, like psychologists, social workers, and registered clinical counsellors. 


Our team will likely give you recommendations for follow-up care. You can also consult with the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre for help choosing the best option for your child and family.

 

‎Some children and youth are offered therapy with our programs. Group therapy includes other patients with one or more health care providers. Family members may also be present or in a separate group that meets at the same time. A variety of therapies may be used over the course of treatment. 

‎If medication is needed, we will recommend a schedule to your community care provider that best manages a mental illness with the least side effects. In some complex cases, your psychiatrist may prescribe the medication and follow up with your child to see how the medication is working. When your child is stable, your community care provider (family doctor, pediatrician, nurse practitioner, psychiatrist) will take over prescribing.

 
 

‎Our health care teams may make recommendations to families (or schools, with your consent) on how to help your child in the school setting. This may include writing a letter of support, having meetings, providing specific suggestions on managing the mental illness, involving a school counsellor, and providing ideas and resources for the classroom teacher or other ways to support your child's educational, social and emotional needs. The team may also recommend further assessment. 

 

‎Our department offers a range of family education events and groups. There are also parent groups that offer support and a chance to learn new skills and connect with other parents with similar experiences.

 

Our health care teams work with children and their families to come up with a plan for treating and managing mental illness. This plan actively involves:


  • the child or youth and family members
  • the child's community health care provider
  • the health care team at the hospital
 

As part of treatment planning, we will make recommendations about everyday life that have can support mental health, such as:

  • nutrition
  • sleep
  • screen-time
  • exercise
  • self-care
  • connecting with supportive friends and adults

This specialized program is for children and youth up to the age of 18 with metabolic complications related to their mental health disorder and treatment, including:

 

  • significant weight gain
  • high blood pressure
  • abnormal lipid profile
  • increase in insulin and blood sugar levels

The program focuses on the strategies that will be most effective in your particular home and community.

 

For educational information about specific disorders, peer support and resources, please visit the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre website


Your Visit

Provincial Youth Concurrent Disorders Program


The provincial youth concurrent disorders program (PYCD) sees youth aged 12-24 with complex mental health and substance use concerns which have not responded to treatment in their communities.  The clinic works from a harm reduction approach. Abstinence from substance use is not required.


Please click here for the referral form and criteria.


Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Programs


The provincial specialized eating disorder programs at BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH) is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, specialized program to assess and treat children and youth up to the age of 24 who have a severe eating disorder. Any child or youth from BC or the Yukon who, in the opinion of a community care provider, is struggling with an eating disorder may be referred for assessment at the provincial program. To learn more about the provincial specialized eating disorders programs please click here.


Mental Health Metabolic Disorders Program 


The mental health metabolic disorders program is for children and youth up to the age of 18 who need specialized management of concerns associated with metabolic complications related to their mental health disorder, such as: significant weight gain, high blood pressure, abnormal lipid profile elevated insulin and blood sugar levels.


Please click here for the referral form.


Reproductive Mental Health Program


The reproductive mental health program sees women ages 19+ with a mental health concerns who are:


  • pregnant and up to 1 year postpartum

  • have experienced a perinatal loss within the last year

  • dealing with infertility

  • require a pre-pregnancy medication consult

  • dealing with Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) 

The program also provides consultation to health care professionals around the province who are caring for women with perinatal mental health concerns as inpatients. Telephone consultations to referring practitioners are available, responding to issues of patient safety, medication use or community supports available to the patient while waiting for their first appointment.


Please click here for the referral form and here to visit the BC Reproductive Mental Health website. 


For educational information about specific disorders, peer support and resources please visit BC Children’s Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre website
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