The COVID-19 public health crisis has introduced new and urgent mental health challenges for children across British Columbia.
As a result, the BC Representative for Children and Youth, Jennifer Charlesworth, asked the Children’s Health Policy Centre (CHPC) to prepare a “Rapid Response” report on effective approaches for reducing childhood anxiety.
Published today, the report identifies two interventions that can be delivered by practitioners virtually and three that can be self-administered by children and families themselves.
“We know it is crucial to address anxiety symptoms and disorders early to ensure they don’t persist into adulthood,” Charlesworth said. “Help cannot wait until the pandemic is over.”
Nearly 45,000 children in B.C. were estimated to have anxiety disorders, before COVID-19, according to Charlotte Waddell, director of the CHPC. “Our new report confirms there are many effective ways for practitioners, caregivers and families to prevent and reduce anxiety during these challenging times,” she said.
Read the entire report here.
The scientific team guiding the BC Healthy Connections Project has published an update. The project is a randomized controlled trial evaluating the Nurse-Family Partnership program, involving 739 BC-based girls and young women — and their 744 children. The update may be viewed here.
Following last year’s publication of data describing maternal participants and the life conditions they were coping with in early pregnancy, the team is now analyzing initial data on the effectiveness of the nurse-visitation program. A first findings report will soon be released — examining the program’s impact on prenatal substance use. Further findings reports will follow in 2020-2022.
As well, some 27% of project participants identified as Indigenous (including First Nations, Métis or Inuit). The scientific team is collaborating with the First Nations Health Authority to produce publications telling their stories.
The scientific team expects to provide an additional update every quarter until March 2022.
The Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University has created a brief video offering parents advice on how to help children cope with COVID-19.
The video features Charlotte Waddell, director of the Children’s Health Policy Centre, who says that physical distancing doesn’t have to mean loss of connections.
She suggests that parents help children by:
• Getting help themselves when needed to manage stress and to help kids maintain healthy routines
• Encouraging kids to stay connected with friends and family using social networks and the phone
• Remembering how COVID19 affects some children and families more than others
• Thinking of ways to be helping others, which in turn contributes to resilience
“Social connections are crucial for children, as they are for adults,” Waddell says. For more information on specific steps parents and caregivers can take to support kids in the time of COVID-19, go here.
The Children’s Health Policy Centre has taken on a new research project to comprehensively estimate children’s mental health needs in BC and recommend how they can be met. The BC Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) has requested this effort, to inform new services for children’s mental health.
This project will inform needs-based planning by:
• Reviewing the latest epidemiological data on the prevalence of the 10 most common childhood mental disorders
• Summarizing the best evidence on exemplary prevention and treatment interventions for young people
• Examining public datasets that can be used to track children’s mental health outcomes going forward, and
• Synthesizing prevalence, intervention and public data evidence to suggest a comprehensive plan for BC
Led by BC MCFD’s Child and Youth Mental Health Policy Branch, a cross-governmental policy advisory group for the project includes senior representatives from the:
• BC Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions (co-sponsor)
• BC Ministry of Health
• BC Ministry of Education
• First Nations Health Authority, and
• Métis Nation of BC
Other policy collaborators are also being consulted as needed.
The CHPC team is being led by Charlotte Waddell, Christine Schwartz and Nicole Catherine — together with Jen Barican, Donna Yung and Yufei Zheng. Additional scientific collaborators include Kathy Georgiades from McMaster University and Bohdan Nosyk and Emanuel Krebs from Simon Fraser University.
This project is being conducted from 2019 through 2021. For more information, please contact Brigitte Bennetsen.