How can the province of BC better address the current opioid crisis?
That was the subject of a 60-minute Zoom-based talk by the Children’s Health Policy Centre on Aug. 3/22 to the Select Standing Committee on Health for the BC Legislature.
Roughly 10 MLAs and their staff attended to hear a presentation prepared by Charlotte Waddell, Christine Schwartz, Nicole Catherine, Jen Barican and Donna Young.
The CHPC team urged the province to tackle the toxic drug supply problem in a new way — by addressing social inequities that contribute to substance use problems for young people and by providing effective prevention and treatment programs for them.
“We need to start early in life — not waiting until problems are entrenched in adolescence or adulthood,” said director of the Centre, Charlotte Waddell. “We also need to address the underlying social inequities that are driving the problem.”
The group suggested that the province needs to double its investments in child and youth mental health and work to ensure that services are better coordinated across the multiple ministries and health authorities currently involved.
What are the next steps for the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program in BC?
That was the subject of a 45-minute talk to the Fraser Health Authority NFP nursing team on June 1/22. Nicole Catherine, Mowafaghian University Research Associate with the Children’s Health Policy Centre had been invited to provide a celebratory update to the nursing team.
A primary prevention program for young, first-time moms, Nurse-Family Partnership, has been the subject of a scientific evaluation, the BC Healthy Connections Project led by the Children’s Health Policy Centre in collaboration with Fraser Health Authority, the BC government and three other health authorities. “The NFP nursing team’s dedication and commitment was tremendous,” Catherine told the group. “The trial is now providing rigorous evidence on how NFP works in BC.”
She also commented on the special challenges presented by Covid. “I’ve heard from the NFP nurses how life has become even more difficult for these children and families since the onset of the pandemic,” she said. “But we feel united by our desire to see all children flourish.”
Many of the nurses currently delivering the program were involved in the original trial and they said they have been impressed by the knowledge being generated by the study – and they hope it will inform new policies and programs to better support underserved children.
How can we prevent maltreatment and ensure all children flourish?
That was the subject of a 30-minute talk to a group of undergraduates, graduate students and faculty at an SFU Faulty of Health Sciences student conference held May 3/22. Nicole Catherine, Mowafaghian University Research Associate with the Children’s Health Policy Centre was the person addressing the group.
Speaking on the results of the BC Healthy Connections Project, an evaluation of a primary prevention program for young, first-time moms, Nurse-Family Partnership, Catherine said the results of the research had been moving. “We were honoured that more than 700 girls and young women and their children had shared their experiences with us,” she said. The research group conducted some 3,700 research interviews for the project.
“We’ve learned that prevention needs to start early in pregnancy before children are born,” Catherine said. “Adversities such as family socioeconomic disadvantage and child maltreatment are socially produced and are therefore preventable.”
Students expressed curiosity about how policymakers are interpreting the trial findings, whether the program is continuing in BC and whether other provinces will explore this intervention. They also noticed that the majority of the research was conducted in English which will have excluded children and families from other cultural backgrounds representative of BC.
Could better monitoring of children’s mental health conditions lead to better outcomes for BC’s children?
That was the subject of a 60-minute virtual talk to graduate students in UBC’s school of population and public health on March 17, 2022, by Charlotte Waddell, director of the Children’s Health Policy Centre.
Speaking on the serious mental health service shortfalls for BC youth and children before Covid-19, Waddell said there is an urgent need to for better measurement now.
“If we measure it, we can start to shift the public conversation,” she said. “This is crucial because until it is their child, people just do not know and so, do not ask policymakers to pay attention.”
The 60-minute talk included enthusiastic discussion of case studies.