Ca­na­da needs a com­prehen­si­ve child and youth men­tal health stra­tegy

Men­tal ill­nes­ses can of­ten be pre­ven­ted from de­ve­lo­ping, or be­co­ming mo­re se­ve­re and dif­fi­cult to treat, by of­fe­ring help to young peo­ple

La Jornada (Canada) - - ENGLISH SECTION -

Men­tal ill­ness is the most com­mon ill­ness found in Ca­na­da’s chil­dren and teens. We all know a young per­son who strug­gles with de­pres­sion, an­xiety, an ad­dic­tion or a beha­viou­ral di­sor­der. Men­tal ill­ness cau­ses high le­vels of dis­tress in chil­dren and can sig­ni­fi­cantly in­ter­fe­re with their li­ves. hy­pe­rac­ti­vity di­sor­der (ADHD), ad­dic­tions or schi­zoph­re­nia.

Sui­ci­de most of­ten oc­curs when men­tal ill­ness - and the con­di­tions that pla­ce chil­dren and teens at risk for men­tal ill­ness - are not ad­dres­sed. It’s cru­cial to ins­til ho­pe in our young peo­ple and build awa­re­ness of the many so­lu­tions to their pro­blems.

So how can we bet­ter sup­port chil­dren with men­tal ill­ness? How do we crea­te ho­pe and bet­ter li­fe­long health and suc­cess for this fu­tu­re ge­ne­ra­tion?

It’s es­sen­tial to de­ve­lop and in­vest in a com­prehen­si­ve child and youth men­tal health stra­tegy at pro­vin­cial and na­tio­nal le­vels. We need stra­te­gies to pro­mo­te po­si­ti­ve men­tal health and pro­vi­de sup­ports and ser­vi­ces early in the ill­ness. Ho­me vi­si­ting in early child­hood, for exam­ple, re­du­ces de­pres­sion, an­xiety and use of subs­tan­ces in chil­dren.

Chil­dren re­qui­re a warm, nur­tu­ring en­vi­ron­ment. High le­vels of stress da­ma­ge the men­tal health of chil­dren. Pre­ven­tion pro­grams in­clu­de po­si­ti­ve pa­ren­ting, ho­me vi­si­ting, an­ti-bull­ying initia­ti­ves and men­tal health pro­mo­tion in schools - all ai­med at pre­ven­ting men­tal ill­ness from de­ve­lo­ping.

Mo­re than half of men­tal di­sor­ders ha­ve their roots in child­hood, so in­crea­sing re­sour­ces for chil­dren will re­du­ce the bur­den of men­tal ill­ness in adult­hood.

Our study found that chil­dren with men­tal ill­nes­ses are mo­re li­kely to ha­ve lo­wer gra­des and less li­kely to gra­dua­te. They’re al­so mo­re li­kely to be ac­cu­sed of a cri­me or to be vic­ti­mi­zed. They’re mo­re li­kely to be from fa­mi­lies li­ving in so­cial hou­sing or re­cei­ving in­co­me as­sis­tan­ce.

In­crea­sing the men­tal health know­led­ge and skills of peo­ple wor­king with chil­dren across edu­ca­tion, so­cial ser­vi­ces and jus­ti­ce sys­tems would mi­ti­ga­te the un­to­ward ef­fects of men­tal ill­ness.

Ca­na­da spends too little on men­tal health com­pa­red to ot­her de­ve­lo­ped coun­tries. The Men­tal Health Com­mis­sion of Ca­na­da re­com­mends that ni­ne per cent of health bud­gets should go to im­pro­ving men­tal health ser­vi­ces.

In­vest­ments in men­tal health and well­ness for chil­dren and teens will go a long way to­ward crea­ting ho­pe and a brigh­ter fu­tu­re. -TROYMEDIA

Ma­riet­te J. Char­tier, RN, PhD, is a re­search scien­tist at the Ma­ni­to­ba Cen­tre for Health Po­licy and an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor in the De­part­ment of Com­mu­nity Health Scien­ces, Uni­ver­sity of Ma­ni­to­ba. Char­tier has pu­blis­hed in the area of po­pu­la­tion health, men­tal health and pre­ven­tion and early in­ter­ven­tion pro­grams for chil­dren and their pa­rents. Mar­ni Brow­nell, PhD, is an ex­pert ad­vi­ser with Evi­den­ceNet­work.ca and pro­fes­sor in the De­part­ment of Com­mu­nity Health Scien­ces at the Uni­ver­sity of Ma­ni­to­ba. She is al­so a senior re­search scien­tist with the Ma­ni­to­ba Cen­tre for Health Po­licy, and a re­search scien­tist with the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal Re­search Ins­ti­tu­te of Ma­ni­to­ba.

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