Research Day Addresses Child Wellness and COVID-19May 5, 2021
An inaugural Child Research Day, sponsored by SFU’s Faculty of Health Sciences, Developmental Trajectories Research Challenge Area on March 25, 2021, included presentations by Children’s Health Policy Centre director Charlotte Waddell and BC Healthy Connections Project scientific director Nicole Catherine.
Naomi Dove, Public Health and Preventative Medicine Physician in the Office of the Provincial Health Officer, provided the keynote talk on the topic of COVID-19 and public policy responses affecting children. As part of this, Waddell addressed child mental wellness and the impact of the pandemic.
Waddell said that nearly 800,000 Canadian children were already coping with mental disorders pre-COVID-19 — and this has only worsened during the pandemic. She also noted that some children are likely to be disproportionately affected, including those with neuro-diverse needs, those with pre-existing mental health conditions and those affected by adversities such as limited income and racism.
She also described how COVID-19 may particularly affect Indigenous Peoples, who have always shown great strength and resilience, but who are still coping with harms related to colonialism such as unsafe housing, lack of access to clean water and food insecurity – conditions that put children at increased risk.
Speaking later in the day, Nicole Catherine presented an overview of the BC Healthy Connections Project (BCHCP), describing the active collaborations between research, policy and practice since the project launched in 2012.
She said that the BCHCP data — collected during research interviews with 1,500 mother-child pairs — represents a large ‘Data Repository’ for future students and mentees to examine healthy child developmental trajectories.
The BCHCP aims to examine the effectiveness of a nurse-home visiting program, Nurse-Family Partnership, in promoting child and maternal health and wellbeing in BC. Prenatal findings have shown reductions in substance use. Findings on child injuries, cognition, language and mental health, and on maternal life-course, will be available in 2021–2022.