Making a difference in mental health
Even before the pandemic, there was a staggering rise in the number of youth and families seeking mental health support. COVID-19 made this worse, leading to a “shadow pandemic.”
Over 95,000 kids and youth in BC are impacted by mental health issues each year, with only about 40 per cent of kids with mental health issues receiving services for their condition. This trend has only accelerated during this difficult time.
The stakes are high, but so is the commitment of experts at BC Children’s Hospital who are working tirelessly to improve the mental health and well-being of kids and youth.
Researchers at BC Children’s Hospital have been conducting studies to evaluate the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and youth. Among the many studies launched over the past year, one online survey is seeking to better understand how the pandemic has affected the thoughts, actions and feelings of kids and youth over time and what resources are needed to best support them.
“This research has the potential to transform the lives of children and families across the province who are struggling with unmet mental healthcare needs.”
– DR. S. EVELYN STEWART, DIRECTOR OF OCD CLINIC AND DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH FOR CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHIATRY,
Meeting kids where they are with virtual care
With the help of technology, mental health experts are giving kids and caregivers the help they need — when and where they need it.
One tool is the Breathr app, which provides a variety of mindfulness practices, including guided meditations and breathing exercises that can be used anywhere. Since version 2.0 of the app was launched in May 2021, there have been over 12,000 downloads.
Online tools and resources also available through the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre, including the attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) webinar series, are reaching parents across the province to revolutionize mental health care.
Better mental health through mindfulness
Over the past year, the Centre for Mindfulness team has helped over 1,450 patients and caregivers better manage the challenges of their health journey by harnessing the power of mindfulness.
Initiatives include crucial programs like Mindful Awareness and Resilience Skills for Adolescents (MARS-A), teaching youth mindfulness skills to cope with psychological distress, chronic pain and stress. Another program, Mindful Awareness and Resilience Skills for Parents and Caregivers (MARS-PC), offers crucial support, providing families with a framework for coping through self-awareness and unconditional compassion. Mindfulness programs have also been expanded to support healthcare teams through sessions designed to positively impact clinician well-being.
Happier, healthier futures through pain care
Kids living with chronic and acute pain have an increased risk of mental health challenges. Support and guidance in pain care can prevent devastating or life-changing impacts, from missing school and important childhood milestones to depression or other more serious outcomes. Through the Pain Care 360 program, BC Children’s has embarked on a journey to transform pediatric pain care and support youth and their families.
The team continues its work to strengthen standardized approaches to the treatment of children’s pain, and aims to apply for ChildKind certification, which will be an important step in recognizing the hospital’s commitment to this focus.
Providing spaces and tools to make a difference
Over the past year, BC Children’s has been able to increase resources for kids and families in need of emotional and psychological support. In addition to the many donors who have supported the initiatives listed above, we want to recognize the following generous donors:
Paul Balfour and Cynthia Miles
Patrick and Beryl Campbell
Chan Family Foundation
The Kronier family
The O’Sullivan family
The River Foundation
Sobeys and the Sobey Foundation
Summer Split Foundation
Lawrence and Sandi Thiessen and family