VANCOUVER — Children and youth in British Columbia who are coping with psychiatric issues now have access to a medical identification service similar to those with diabetes or severe allergies.
A pilot program launched at BC Children's Hospital aims to help first responders and health-care professionals treat young mental-health patients in an emergency.
Young patients can enrol with MedicAlert Foundation Canada to receive an identification bracelet and a custom care plan.
The bracelet can alert police, paramedics or doctors to the child's medical condition, while the care plan provides guidance about the best way to respond.
The BC Children's Hospital initiative, in partnership with MedicAlert and FamilySmart, was developed after children and youth with mental-health challenges reported frightening encounters with those trying to help during a crisis.
Participation is voluntary and organizers hope to enrol approximately 100 patients during the pilot phase.
The program acknowledges some kids may not want to wear the bracelet for fear of being teased, and encourages parents to discuss the issue of stigma and mental health with their children. A small tag that can be attached to a shoe or backpack is also provided as an option.
Judy Darcy, B.C.'s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions says MedicAlert assists patients with a wide variety of medical conditions and now young psychiatric patients will have access to the same protection.
"This medical identification service can make it easier for children and youth – and their families – to get trauma-informed and appropriate care when they are faced with a medical emergency," Darcy says in a release.
MedicAlert Foundation Canada provides a hotline for paramedics, police, other emergency responders, as well as health-care providers so they can access a subscriber's detailed medical profile and contact information.
Parents are also able to create a care plan tailored to the needs of their child and have those details added to the profile.
The pilot launched on National Child and Youth Mental Health Day, which was founded by FamilySmart in 2007 to promote child and youth mental health.
The Canadian Press