A majority of adolescents with mental illness who are hospitalized are not receiving follow-up care with a primary care doctor or psychiatrist within a month after discharge, based on new research from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). The authors are highlighting the need for timely aftercare to avoid future hospitalization, an expensive and intrusive psychiatric treatment setting. Only 24 per cent had aftercare with a physician or psychiatrist within seven days and 49 per cent within 30 days.
The study, published recently in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, followed 7,000 adolescents in Ontario discharged between 2002 and 2004 and found gaps in follow-up care which seemed to be linked to demographics and diagnoses.
Adolescents in the study who did not receive follow-up care were more likely to be from Northern Ontario, female, live in rural areas, suffer from a mood disorder and have exhibited self-harm or suicidality. High socioeconomic status and psychotic disorders were associated with greater likelihood of aftercare.
Researchers suggest that clinical and policy efforts are needed to address geographic inequities and improve timely access to mental health aftercare for all youth.