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Health & Mental Health – Secure Treatment

What is a “secure treatment” program?

A secure treatment program is an intensive care program to young people under 19 for acute and complex mental health issues. Placement in a secure treatment program are ordered by a court unless it’s an emergency. You may also not be allowed to see your Healthcare Record

Can I go into a secure treatment program by myself?

If you are 16 or 17 years old, you can apply to be in a secure treatment program. Contact the facility or speak to a lawyer about making this application.

There are 4 secure treatment facilities in Ontario:

  • Oakville: Syl Apps Youth Centre
  • Ottawa: Roberts Smart Centre
  • Toronto: Youthdale (emergencies only – up to 30 days)
  • Whitby: Ontario Shores Centre

Can anyone else put me in secure treatment?

If you are under 12, the Minister of Community and Social Services has to give permission before a court can order you into a secure treatment program.

If you are between 12 and 15, your parents, guardians or a Children’s Aid Society can ask a court to order you into a secure treatment program.

If you are 16 or 17, your parents, guardians or a Children’s Aid Society can ask for a court order only if you agree; and your doctor can ask for a court order without your consent.

In an emergency, the same rules apply but it is the administrator of the secure treatment facility that must consent (not the court).

How does the court process work?

A hearing will be held within 10 days to decide if you should be in a secure treatment program. If you are between 12-17 years old, you can have a lawyer there to help you. If you go to the hearing without a lawyer, one will be appointed for you.

The court will consider whether:

  • you have a mental health issue,
  • you have harmed or tried to harm yourself or someone else in the last 45 days,
  • you have also threatened to harm, tried to harm, or actually harmed yourself or someone else, in the last year,
  • the program would be effective in preventing you from harming yourself or others,
  • the right treatment is available at the facility, and
  • there are no less restrictive ways of providing the treatment.

The test for an emergency short-term admission (up to 30 days) is almost the same except that there only needs to be one example of threatened or actual harm.

How long will I be kept in secure treatment?

The court can order that you stay there for up to 180 days at a time. These orders can be made longer by another court order, which is usually made near the end of the existing order. The facility can let you go before the order is over if they believe you no longer require a secure treatment program.

What If I’m in secure treatment but I don’t want to be?

If you are 12 years old or older, you can make apply for a “review” of your secure treatment order.

For help, contact the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office, the Ontario Ombudsman’s Children and Youth Unit, or a lawyer.

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