A Breath of Fresh Air for Mental Health

Opening this autumn, a new space at McMaster Children’s Hospital will benefit pediatric mental health patients.

Mary Beth Toth and Rob Baboth

Mary Beth Toth and Rob Baboth on a hard-hat tour.

“The Outdoor Wellness Courtyard will provide an opportunity for patients to enjoy sunshine and fresh air, which is important to their well-being,” says Dr. Olabode Akintan, Medical Director of Inpatient, Day Hospital and Psychiatry Emergency Services at the Child and Youth Mental Health Program.

A crisis among children and youth

Mental health challenges affect one in five Canadian children and suicide is the leading cause of non-accidental death in youth. The new courtyard will be a secure and monitored environment, which is particularly important for patients who are at increased risk of self-harm.

“I would estimate that 70 to 80 per cent of our patients are admitted on account of concerns about their safety, which is often related to suicide,” says Dr. Akintan.

“They have done an extraordinary job fundraising.”

Making an impact

Dr. Olabode Akintan at McMaster Children's Hospital

Dr. Olabode Akintan

Patients in the courtyard will always have staff available to them for guidance and assistance. In terms of suicide prevention, the courtyard is one piece of a bigger picture that includes crisis supports, therapies and medications.

Dr. Akintan is grateful to donors and staff for their efforts in making the courtyard a reality.

“They have done an extraordinary job fundraising,” he says. “I am very lucky to work with brilliant and dedicated people, and we’re all excited about the positive impact that this new courtyard will have for patients.”