National Network for Mental Health is commited to people with disabilities


As they hurried about their home packing for an emergency exodus, Shaun and Amanda Westhaver did not want to upset their five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter. So the parents told their kids they were going on an adventure.

“We told them, ‘We’re going to go and have a great big sleepover with everybody from Fort McMurray,’” said Mr. Westhaver, who is the golf pro at the Miskanaw Golf Course at Fort McMurray’s MacDonald Island Park.

Much has been lost in the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history, a rebuild that is expected to reach $7-billion to $9-billion. But the emotional cost of seeing fire in the sky and whole neighbourhoods ablaze is leading to another question: What effect has the disaster had on the children of Fort McMurray? Continue reading

Schools need to tackle the root causes of bullying instead

Children are being wrongly prescribed anti-depressants as a result of being bullied, a leading mental health campaigner has said.

The Department for Education‘s mental health advisor, Natasha Devon, said kids need support from bullying, rather than being prescribed medication.

“If a child is being bullied and they have symptoms of depression because they are being bullied, what they need is for the bullying to stop,” Devon said at the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference.

“They need to feel safe again. They don’t necessarily need anti-depressants or therapy.” Continue reading

There is an alarming trend involving a growing number of Canadian children turning to hospitals for mental health services.

Across the country, child and youth emergency room visits for mental health issues increased 45 per cent from 2007 to 2014.

On any given day, roughly half of all overnight hospital patients aged 5 to 24 are being treated for a mental disorder.

Faced with long wait times, parents of children with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues are even going into debt to pay for help they can’t afford to wait for. They are calling for provincial governments to better fund mental health treatment for kids. Continue reading

Equipment safety has been upgraded but children still need ‘appropriate supervision’

More U.S. children are needing treatment for traumatic brain injuries such as concussions from injuries on the playground despite safety improvements in playground equipment —  a trend Canadian doctors see too.

About 28,500 children a year in Canada need medical treatment as a result of playground injuries ranging from bruises and broken bones to serious head trauma and spinal cord injuries, according to Canadian hospital injury data. Continue reading

On the wall of Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou’s office hangs a framed photo of a lone toddler. The boy, a patient of hers, is captured pedalling away from the camera on a plastic orange tricycle.

A quote attributed to U.S. journalist Hodding Carter Jr. floats above his head, and Dr. Anagnostou reads it out loud: “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other wings.”

It’s a gift she received years ago from the boy’s father, she explains. It’s also a reminder of the challenge she faces. Roots and wings are a tall order for a doctor who’s striving to understand and find new treatments for autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Anagnostou, a senior clinician scientist at Toronto’s Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, has spent more than a decade trying to unearth the causes of autism, with the aim of improving the lives of children affected by it. Continue reading

Arti Patel

It’s 9 a.m. and a morning circle is about to begin at a school in Toronto’s west end. A group of 19 students, ages seven and eight, huddle around and turn their attention towards their teacher.

Camesha Cox, teacher and managing director of The Reading Partnership — a non-profit that empowers parents to teach their kids how to read — prompts the circle with a simple question, “How are you feeling today?”

On average she does three 15-minute morning circles a week during the school year with classes across the city. And they are some of the most effective minutes spent with her students. Continue reading

By Alyson Schafer

We are finally working together as a culture to lift the stigma of children’s mental health issues. Given the stats from the Canadian Mental Health Association, we can’t waste more time. Check this out:

  • 10 to 20 per cent of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder.
  • Approximately 5 per cent of male youth and 12 per cent of female youth, age 12 to 19, have experienced a major depressive episode.
  • The total number of 12 to 19 year olds in Canada at risk for developing depression is a staggering 3.2 million.
  • Once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80 per cent of people who are affected, allowing them to get back to their regular activities.
  • Mental illness is increasingly threatening the lives of our children; with Canada’s youth suicide rate being the third highest in the industrialized world.
  • Suicide is among the leading causes of death in 15- to 24-year-old Canadians, second only to accidents; 4,000 people die prematurely each year by suicide.
  • Schizophrenia is youth’s greatest disabler as it strikes most often in the 16- to 30-year age group, affecting an estimated one person in 100.
  • Surpassed only by injuries, mental disorders in youth are ranked as the second highest hospital care expenditure in Canada.
  • In Canada, only one out of five children who need mental health services receives them.

Continue reading

Craig and Marc Kielburger founded Free The Children, Me to We and We Day. Find out more at Their biweekly Brain Storm column taps experts and readers for solutions to social issues.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently came out with a bold recommendation: Primary care physicians must routinely screen patients aged 12 to 18 for depression.

We’re certain parents would be relieved if such a measure were introduced in Canada, where there’s a mental health crisis among young people, with family members on the front lines. Continue reading

‘Child sexual abuse is tragically common and it impacts lives for many many years,’ says Dr. Peter Silverstone

By Min Dhariwal, CBC News

On a wide open space east of Edmonton, the Be Brave Ranch has given new hope to child survivors of sexual abuse.

The ranch offers an intensive four-week therapy program run by the University of Alberta that has helped sexually abused children deal with post-traumatic stress and other trauma, according to recently completed clinical trials.

The Be Brave Ranch is the only facility of its kind to offer this dedicated treatment to children aged eight to 12.

It’s the brainchild of Glori Meldrum, a survivor of child abuse herself. Continue reading


SASKATOON – To paraphrase Brett Mavriik, if you’re agitated and determined to make a difference you can pretty much do anything. That includes walking across Canada to raise awareness and money for children’s mental health.

“Pretty much anywhere you go if there’s a disruption, which children with mental health may have if they’re ostracized, they’re pushed out. They never have a chance and I don’t think that’s fair,” says Mavriik.

Mavriik and his husky, Nymeria, are midway through their seven-million step journey from Toronto to Whistler, B.C. The adventure started on Sept. 28, 2015 and will take almost a year to complete. Continue reading