Head to Toe at CHEO
Parents and kids tell CHEO’s experts that today’s children and youth are surrounded by talk and examples of self-harm. One of CHEO’s new pilot initiatives is helping to tackle this. “Head to Toe at CHEO” is a one year pilot program whereby health professionals ask all kids 12 and older, who are admitted to CHEO for mental health problems, about any suicidal thoughts they might have now or have had in the past as a standard part of admission. If their responses are positive, we examine them further to assess their risk for suicide and match their level of risk with interventions ranging from mental health education to specialized psychiatric care. Just like a physical head to toe assessment provides important information to CHEO’s doctors, mental health screening provides crucial insight into the child’s overall well-being. Funding is needed to develop materials and formalize the program, including staff to help with on-going mental health support while they are in the hospital and to follow-up with them once they are discharged to make sure they get the care they need.