Helping policy makers respond to the needs of kids

September 14, 2018

A recent video conference, focusing on an academic publication by the Children’s Health Policy Centre, ended up highlighting a unique partnership in B.C.

“I think it’s remarkable that you have such an integrated group of people who implement policy, who advocate for policy and who research policy,” said moderator Michael Ostacher, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Stanford University and digital content editor for the journal Evidence-Based Mental Health.

The one-hour discussion brought together the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development, represented by Rob Lampard, the BC division of the Canadian Mental Health Association, represented by Bev Gutray and the CHPC research team, led by Charlotte Waddell. She was joined by Christine Schwartz and Jen Barican from the CHPC.

Although the impetus for the event was publication of a systematic review of prevention and treatment of childhood behaviour disorders, the wide-ranging discussion touched on much broader issues and concerns.

Highlighted was the unique relationship between the CHPC research group and the BC government. “There’s been a relationship between [the CHPC and] the policy branch that goes way back to the early 2000s,” said BC Child and Youth Mental Health Policy Executive Director Rob Lampard. “The team has had a big influence on the public policy landscape. Their excellent work is part of a large fabric that’s been woven over many years.”

His positive views were echoed by BC division Canadian Mental Health Association CEO Bev Gutray. “It’s a great privilege to be part of this team,” she said, noting that she was particularly happy with her own group’s ability to launch an intervention called Confident Parents/Thriving Kids. An adaptation of evidence-based parent training developed in Oregon, the built-in-BC program is able to provide support to parents via the phone in evenings and on weekends. “We couldn’t have done this without the CHPC team,” Gutray said. “And the Ministry has been alongside us every step of the way,” she adds.

While emphasizing the value of systematic review work, CHPC director Charlotte Waddell also stressed the importance of being pragmatic. “It’s really important to avoid what some people have called systemic review nihilism,” she said. “We need to give policy makers something practical that will allow them to respond to kids’ needs.”

Anyone wishing to view the video conference can see it here.