TORONTO, Aug. 7, 2014 /CNW/ – While more than 93,000 adults in Ontario are affected by the challenges of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), many go undiagnosed for far too long. Without appropriate diagnostic and mental health services, many of these adults suffer in isolation. To address this emerging issue, care providers from across Ontario have joined together to create the Ontario Working Group on Mental Health and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
“Adults with ASD often struggle with mental health issues– often undiagnosed or untreated due to lack of understanding of ASD in the mental health field,” says Dr. Kevin Stoddart, Co-Chair of the working group and Director of the Redpath Centre in Toronto. “We formed this working group because we need to be more informed and responsive to those with ASD and co-occurring mental health issues.”
People with ASD face unique challenges and are often unable to find or keep employment, gain independence, find friends and partners, or function in post-secondary education. Mental health issues like anxiety and depression are also common for adults with ASD and can significantly impact daily life.
61-year- old Susan Burton-Bowler only learned she had autism at age 35. Throughout her life Susan also struggled with mental illness including obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and depression. Diagnosis, treatment and education about autism have helped Susan manage her mental health and maintain a healthy life.
“I hope this group will help us understand how we can make the process of diagnosis easier so that people can be better connected to the services they need,” said Burton-Bowler, now an advocate for adults living with ASD.
The Ontario Working Group on Mental Health and Adults with ASD, created to identify and help respond to the complex needs of this group, is composed of representatives from major providers of mental health services, professional medical and allied health groups, and leading autism spectrum organizations.
“Working together and collaborating across the system is the first step to improving care for this marginalized patient group,” said Dr. Kwame McKenzie, Medical Director, Underserved Populations, CAMH. “The working group will provide ongoing opportunities for psychiatrists and primary care physicians to learn more about clinical and lifespan issues adults with ASD face.”
Ontario Working Group on Mental Health and Adults with ASD is composed of representatives from major providers of mental health services, professional medical and allied health groups, and leading autism spectrum organizations. Current participants include: the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), Geneva Centre for Autism, Autism Ontario, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), The Redpath Centre, University of Toronto, Kerry’s Place Autism Services, Surrey Place Centre, Ontario Association of Social Workers, Association of General Hospital Psychiatric Services, Ontario Hospital Association, North York General Hospital, and College of Family Physicians of Canada.
SOURCE Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
For further information: Media Contact: Kate Richards, Media Relations, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), (416) 535- 8501 ext. 36015, email@example.com