N.B. government enlists child and youth advocate to review mental health services following suicide of teen
FREDERICTON -- New Brunswick Health Minister Dorothy Shephard says she has asked the province’s child and youth advocate to review the mental health crisis services that exist in the province.
On Wednesday, Shephard answered questions from the media for the first time since the death of Lexi Daken.
The 16-year-old waited at the Everett Chalmers Hospital emergency room for over eight hours to see a psychiatrist, according to her parents. She never saw one.
Daken died by suicide on Feb. 24.
The loss has sparked outrage across the province and the country.
Shephard said she has spoken with Horizon Health Network senior officials to discuss “how we can address crisis care in our emergency rooms.”
“I have asked them to report back to me by the end of the month. A similar conversation will take place in due course with Vitalité Health Network,” said Shephard.
According to Shephard, N.B. child and youth advocate Norm Bossé can lead an independent review of what happened and what the gaps are in the mental health crisis system.
The details on the scope of that review will be revealed soon.
Shephard says she also had a conversation with Lexi’s father, Chris Daken, on Wednesday morning.
“Lexi’s parents have done something very brave. They have shared their anguish publically and we cannot let that be in vain,” said Shephard.
Just over a week ago, Shephard launched her five-year mental health and addiction plan, which included mental health walk-in clinics.
She couldn’t promise those clinics would open any sooner, in light of Lexi’s story.
Shawna Betts, Lexi’s mother, said in an interview with CTV on Wednesday, that she’s prepared to “play the long game.”
“I’m here for this marathon,” said Betts. “This isn’t just a New Brunswick problem. I’m receiving messages from parents all over Canada with the exact same issues, the complaints, these horror stories of taking their kids to the E.R. and then losing them just within days.”
Betts said itsi impossible not to feel guilty.
“But we reached out, and then, we were pushed away. And so, I want the system to change, the system has to change,” says Betts.
Shephard declined to say if anyone at Horizon Health has been off of work because of what happened.