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Representative for Children and Youth wants more done for Aboriginal youth mental health

British Columbia’s Representative for Children and Youth say a lack of timely access to mental health services contributed to the suicide death of a 16-year-old First Nations boy.

In her latest report, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond says the teen, dubbed Chester to protect his identity, left school in May 2013, walked to a nearby forested area and took his own life.

Turpel-Lafond also points to a lack of proper assessment and treatment for him, in part because of miscommunication and a lack of follow-up between service providers who wrongly believed the likable teen was getting the necessary support.

NDP Opposition Spokesperson for Children and Family Development, Melanie Mark, says communication needs to be improved.

She says it’s important to ensure the youth have a place to go if they need help.

The Minister of Children and Family Development, Stephanie Cadieux, issued a statement following the release of the report.

“Ministry staff will review the RCY’s recommendations in this report in the context of the ministry’s multi-year plan and current youth mental-health system, which the Representative’s report is unable to fully catalogue.”

One of the five recommendations in Turpel-Lafond’s report calls for the federal government help to create a lead agency able to ensure mentally ill aboriginal youth are assessed and treated within two months.

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