Opportunities to help kids during COVIDFebruary 12, 2021
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has a unique opportunity to be a world leader in children’s mental health, according to Charlotte Waddell, director of the Children’s Health Policy Centre.
Speaking in an interview with the CBC public affairs radio program The House, Waddell said that nearly 800,000 Canadian children are already coping with mental disorders and this will only worsen with the pandemic.
Based on evidence from previous public health disasters, such as SARS and floods, “we anticipate the needs will increase dramatically — perhaps two to tenfold,” she said. In particular, anxiety, behaviour problems, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are all expected to increase.
But the good news is that Statistics Canada recently completed a high-quality survey of 45,000 children, just before the pandemic began. According to Waddell, this “trove of pre-pandemic data” gives us the opportunity to repeat the survey to compare pre- and post-pandemic numbers.
Such analysis will lead to better, more strategic support for children. “We have an ethical imperative to act,” Waddell says. “And if we don’t act, we run the risk of causing damage to a generation of kids.”
The complete interview with The House can be heard here.