Anxiety the leading mental health issue among Canadian children

Public Health Agency of Canada health organizations say rates of anxiety in Canadian children on the rise

Anxiety has been called the most prevalent mental health issue among Canadian children, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Sara Dimerman, a Toronto-based psychologist, said her practice has seen a surge of anxiety in children in recent years and believes there are many contributing factors.

“Unlike when we were growing up, children are bombarded with second-by-second real time news events that are often catastrophic, and it’s really hard to protect them from the information and images when social media is all about that,” said Dimerman.

School policies like fire drills and code red drills could also be contributing to the anxiety and the idea that the world is dangerous.

Another factor, according to Dimerman is societal pressure and children growing up faster than they should.

“Children are growing up at an increasingly quicker rate than ever before. Twelve-year-olds, for example, are engaging in activities more like that of 16-year-olds would when we were growing up,” said Dimerman.

She said that children are not able to emotionally handle the shrinking years of childhood.

Children engaging in activities that are beyond their years or social skills can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and panic attacks.

“I think parents play a crucial role in helping children feel more or less anxious,” said Dimerman.

If you are a parent that has an anxious child, Dimerman believes that recognizing your child’s fears and talking to them about it is an important first step.

She also recommends not watching violent news around children, or leaving a 24-hour news channel on.

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