Showcasing Indigenous-led-research

April 11, 2024

Centre Director Charlotte Waddell gave a virtual talk about a Nuu-chah-nulth-led study on healthy child development to the child health advisory board at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on April 10.

The talk was titled, “Everything is One, Everything is Connected.”

Waddell presented together with SFU scholar Pablo Nepomnaschy, on behalf of Lynnette Lucas and the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council team, the study leads.

The presentation described a multi-generational study being conducted by and within the 14 Nuu-chah-nulth Nations, whose ancestral lands are located on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

“As non-Indigenous research allies,” Waddell said, “team members from SFU are helping to merge the best of Indigenous and ‘Western’ science while upholding high ethical standards including ensuring Indigenous data sovereignty.”

“This study will be ‘the Framingham’ of Indigenous Peoples,” Waddell added, quoting Indigenous scholar Jeff Reading, who is co-leading the Nuu-chah-nulth project. Framingham refers to a famous long-term cardiovascular health study that began in 1948 and is now on its third generation of participants, helping to improve population wellbeing.

Funding and community consultations for the Nuu-chah-nulth project began in 2017 and continued in 2022 with a grant of $15 million over six years from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, in partnership with Alberta First Nations.

“Everything we do,” Waddell said, “involves constant reciprocity and respect for Indigenous Knowledge and wishes.

“We are working to overcome some of the harmful legacies of colonialism by supporting Indigenous leadership of research that is by and about them, as one step towards truth and reconciliation.”

Why we need to do a better job of serving children who are neurodiverse

December 7, 2023

Centre Director Charlotte Waddell gave a Zoom talk to close to 300 parents, practitioners and policy makers on Dec. 2. The talk was titled, “Neurodiversity and mental health: Serving children better.”

The presentation covered the following themes:

  • The need to create communities where all children are welcomed and celebrated, and where services are delivered according to needs so that all children can flourish and meet their potential.
  • The prevalence of anxiety, ADHD, behaviour disorders and depression, which are higher for children experiencing three particular forms of neurodiversity (autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome disorder and intellectual disability).
  • The research evidence for effective treatments for these four conditions for children with the three forms of neurodiversity.
  • The effective treatments for other common childhood mental disorders that can also be offered, with adaptations when needed

“We need to ensure that timely and effective treatments are offered to all children, particularly if they are neurodiverse, given higher prevalence rates,” Waddell told the group.

The talk ended with celebrating people who are neurodiverse, and the communities that support them over the lifespan.

Waddell then stayed on the Zoom call to respond to questions and comments. She also joined a small breakout group discussion to learn more about parent’s perspectives.

A recording of the talk can be seen here.


Two new studies on Covid-19 published by CHPC scholar

October 31, 2023

A new study on the Covid-19 pandemic by SFU Assistant Professor and CHPC team member Kim Thomson, has just been published in Plos One.

The study found that parents with children at home reported nearly double pre-pandemic population estimates of moderate to severe psychological distress.

Psychological distress was more frequently reported among parents with pre-existing mental health conditions, disabilities and financial stressors. As well, parents with greater psychological distress reported an increase in negative interactions with their children as a result of the pandemic, and perceived higher anxiety in their children.

“These results highlight that meaningful responses to promote mental health among parents and families must address social and structural inequalities,” the report concluded.

In the same timeframe, Thomson was also co-author of another paper on the Covid-19 pandemic, this one published in the Journal of Adolescence. It profiled the social connectedness among early adolescents in Grade 7 before the pandemic was declared (Winter 2020) and in Grade 8 during the second wave of the pandemic (Winter 2021).

The paper concluded that connectedness with peers and adults in Grade 7 was significantly related to higher levels of mental wellbeing in Grade 8 even during the Covid-19 pandemic, highlighting the protective role of social connection.




Child and youth mental health practitioners and policymakers urged to address service gaps

October 24, 2023

Charlotte Waddell, Centre Director, gave a Sept. 14 talk with the Doctors of BC, Community of Practice on Child and Youth Mental Health. The talk was titled, “Children’s mental health: Research for informing practice and policy.”

Waddell covered crucial messages including the high prevalence of childhood mental disorders and the severe service shortages — with fewer than half of children with these disorders getting any kind of help.

For this talk, which took place in Vancouver with an audience of approximately 100 family physicians, child and youth psychiatrists and policymakers, among others, she urged strong advocacy — to not only address the service gaps, but also ensure that BC invests in effective prevention programs to reduce needs in the population. Waddell noted: “Your advocacy can and will be very powerful in making a difference for children.”