Did You Know?

Mark Action Anxiety Day on June 10

June 10, 2024

Action Anxiety Day educates Canadians about anxiety, reduces stigma and builds awareness of resources and raise funds for programs addressing anxiety. Held annually on June 10, the day was founded by Anxiety Canada, a Vancouver-based organization whose mission is to reduce the barrier of anxiety and its related disorders so people can live the lives they want.

Action Anxiety Day’s organizers encourage participants to use the hashtag #ACTonAnxiety to share stories and promote the event. ACT stands for the following:

  • Awareness: Raise awareness of anxiety and trusted, evidence-based resources.
  • Colours: Wear blue and orange on June 10 to show support.
  • Talking: Tell your anxiety stories and encourage others to share.

Anxiety Canada also offers several resources for promoting the day, including a social media guide and a toolkit for educators.

To learn more about preventing and treating anxiety in children and youth, see Vol. 10, No. 2 and Vol. 10, No. 3 of the Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly.

June is Pride Month

June 3, 2024

This June and all summer long, members of the LGBTQ+ community and friends, family, allies and advocates will celebrate Pride Season in Canada. While June is designated as International Pride Month, Pride events take place throughout the year in many communities.

The first Pride march was held in New York City on June 28, 1970, on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. In Canada, the first Gay Liberation and Protest March took place on August 28, 1971, when approximately 100 people gathered on Parliament Hill to present the government with a list of demands for equal rights and protections. Two years later, in 1973, organizers began holding Pride Week events in major Canadian cities.

This year, Vancouver will host Canada Pride from July 26 to August 4, an event that highlights the critical importance of advocating for LGBTQ+ rights on a global scale. To learn more about supporting LGBTQ+ youth, see Volume 11, No. 2 of the Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly.

More data is needed to make better decisions about children’s mental health

May 20, 2024

More comprehensive data on children’s mental health services are greatly needed, including from BC and Canada. It would be especially beneficial to track the number of children with disorders, the specific services they are receiving over time, and their responses to treatment. This type of ongoing measuring children’s mental health status and access to services is crucial to inform planning. To address the service shortfalls and ultimately improve children’s mental health, better measurement is needed — and is overdue. In essence, “What gets counted counts.”

For more information, see Vol. 16, No. 2 of the Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly.

Age and other factors play a role in treatment for childhood mental disorders

May 13, 2024

A study from Ontario reveals important information on factors that may influence children’s mental health service use. For example, researchers found considerable differences in service use based on age. Among children between four and 11, 61.5% received service for their mental health concerns; however, for youth between 12 and 17, this figure was only 43.7%. Study authors also found differences in service use based on other factors. Specifically, immigrant children were much less likely to receive mental health services compared with non-immigrants. As well, children who had both behaviour and mood or anxiety disorders were significantly more likely to receive services than children with just one of these disorders.

For more information, see Vol. 16, No. 2 of the Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly.

May 7 is child and youth Mental Health Day

May 6, 2024

Child and Youth Mental Health Day, marked annually on May 7 in Canada, offers an opportunity to raise awareness of the struggles that children and youth face. It encourages individuals, communities and policymakers to prioritize mental health initiatives.

Family Smart, a BC-based non-profit, established the day in 2007. Their goal is to facilitate caring, connected conversations between young people and adults. Since then, the day has spotlighted both the existing mental health supports for young people and the work that remains to be done.

The Children’s Health Policy Centre conducted a systematic review on the prevalence and impact of childhood mental disorders in 2022. You can learn more about the findings in Vol. 16, No. 2 of the Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly.

Almost half of children with mental disorders receive no help

April 22, 2024

Given the high burden of childhood mental disorders, all children with these conditions should have rapid access to effective treatments. Access to mental health services is also a fundamental right of all children, as evidenced by Canada and many other countries declaring their obligation to provide such services. To understand how well Canada is meeting its obligation to these children, The Children’s Health Policy Centre conducted an analysis to identify how many children with mental disorders received interventions for these conditions. We did so using data from our review on the prevalence of childhood mental disorders, which was originally published in Evidence Based Mental Health. 

Eight of the 14 high-quality epidemiological studies that we reviewed provided data on services children with mental disorders received. While all the data were high quality, each study defined and evaluated services somewhat differently. For example, some covered only mental health care, such as psychotherapy or psychiatric medications, while others covered a wide range of interventions, such as self-help groups and probation services. We also found gaps in the data, such as missing details on specific types of psychotherapy or medication and the duration of services. Our analysis nevertheless revealed that for children who were coping with mental disorders, only 44.2% — or fewer than half — received any services for these conditions.

For more information, see Vol. 16, No. 2 of the Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly.

Childhood mental disorders create a heavy burden

April 15, 2024

Having a child with a mental disorder can have considerable consequences for families. For example, one study found that parents of children with mental disorders were significantly more likely to reduce their work hours or to end their employment altogether, compared with parents of children with physical health conditions. Parents of children with mental disorders were also significantly more likely to spend more than four hours per week arranging for child care, compared with parents of children with physical health conditions. Financial costs can also add up. For example, parents may have to miss work to address their children’s mental health needs, or they may face out-of-pocket expenses for medications or for psychosocial interventions that are not publicly funded.

Beyond these high individual burdens, childhood mental conditions also have significant consequences for society. Because these disorders are the leading cause of childhood disability, they come with steep costs in lost human potential. These disorders also come with large expenditures across multiple public sectors, including health care, education, and social and justice services. Costs are particularly high when children do not receive needed treatments or receive them in a timely way, such that mental health problems worsen and become needlessly entrenched, even continuing into adulthood. Yet effective treatment approaches for the majority of these disorders already exist and many of these treatments have been shown to be cost-effective. For more information, see Vol. 16, No. 2 of the Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly.

Childhood mental disorders are more common than many think

April 8, 2024

To estimate the percentage of children with mental disorders, the Children’s Health Policy Centre analyzed data from nearly 62,000 young people contained in 14 high-quality studies. We found that 12.7% of children, or approximately one in eight, met diagnostic criteria for a mental disorder at any given time. In BC, this means approximately 95,000 young people currently meet criteria for a mental disorder, making the burden high across the province. And many children carry an even higher burden as 26.5% of young people with disorders had two or more concurrently.

We also calculated prevalence for 12 of the most common disorders or disorder groups. Anxiety disorders topped the list at 5.2%. Other common problems included attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD, 3.7%), oppositional defiant disorder (3.3%), any substance use disorder (2.3%), major depressive disorder (1.3%) and conduct disorder (1.3%). For more information, see Vol. 16, No. 2 of the Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly.

World Autism Awareness Day is April 2

April 1, 2024

The UN will observe World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 with a virtual event designed to promote acceptance and appreciation of autistic people and their contributions to society. The theme for this year’s event is Moving from Surviving to Thriving: Autistic individuals share regional perspectives.

The event is organized in collaboration with autistic advocates and participants and will be delivered by the Institute of Neurodiversity, a non-profit organization established and run by neurodivergent people for neurodivergent people and their allies. Additional support comes from the Group for Autism, Insurance, Investment, and Neurodiversity.

Event organizers have gathered an all-autistic lineup of panelists representing the six inhabited areas of the globe — Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin American and the Caribbean, North America and Oceania. The panelists will share regional perspectives and together will provide a global overview of the state of affairs for autistic people.

The event will take place from 10 am to 1 pm EDT. You can register to attend the virtual event here.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is March 21

March 18, 2024

Observed annually on March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination commemorates the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960, when police in Sharpeville, South Africa, killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws.” The United Nations General Assembly designated the day in 1966. It calls on all of us — individuals, organizations and governments — to work to end racial discrimination in all areas of life.

As a determinant of health, racism has a profound impact on child well-being. To learn more about this and about our evaluation of childhood antiracism interventions, see Volume 15, No. 3 of the Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly.