March 11th, I attended a webinar put on by Sick Kids Hospital entitled “Ask Our SickKids Experts: Mental Health and Wellbeing of Children and Families. The panelists included Dr Daphne Korczak ( specialty – pediatric depression / suicidality) Dr Suneeta Monga (specialty – childhood anxiety) and Dr Debra Kartzman (specialty – eating disorders).
They have been tracking mental health trends since the beginning of the pandemic. Similar to the findings in the UK, USA and Europe, Canadian children are in tremendous mental stress due to the pandemic. At SickKids hospital they have experienced a 50% increase in emergency mental health care, as well as a 35% increase in in-patient care. The kids arriving are younger and the acuity of their illness worse than this hospital anticipated.
Some of the advice that the doctors gave for parents is:
- Keep connected to your children. Find ways to have pleasurable family fun together.
- For those who can manage a balance in their life, allow extra tech time for connecting with friends
- Establish routines and consistency in a household that is calm.
- Encourage hobbies and interests outside of school
- Speak to your primary care physician if your child is sad, isolating, changes in eating or sleeping patterns, less interested in family, friends or fun.
They also recommended every parent know about these three helpful resources:
KidsHelpPhone Annoymous support for parents and children ( call or text Help to 686868)
Feast (a website that helps support parents who have children with eating disorders) https://www.feast-ed.org
AboutKidsHealth.ca is a health education website from SickKid’s for children, youth and their caregivers.