Hamilton’s Public Health Services (PHS) in collaboration with Lynwood Charlton Centre has launched a webpage dedicated to resources supporting the mental health of children and youth during the pandemic.
According to a press release issued Thursday (Jan. 21), the site will connect families or individuals with a number of services to help young people struggling to cope with today’s challenges and provides advice on how parents can detect a problem and practical advice on how to help support their children.
Much of the content of the site was vetted by youth involved with the Lynwood Charlton Youth Engagement Co-Development Team.
“These youth have provided input and feedback on the web content and helped to create social media posts that will be shared to promote the new information,” the release said.
“The Youth Engagement Co-Development Team are hopeful that young people who are feeling disconnected or in need of support are able to learn about and reach out to what’s available to them.”
Lynwood is a Hamilton-based nonprofit organization dedicated to providing services that support child and youth mental health.
The launch of this resource for Hamilton families comes as earlier this week, doctors from some of Canada’s leading children’s hospitals raised the alarm over the rapidly increasing number of youth and families seeking treatment for anxiety, depression and eating disorders.
“These young people are so used to having a routine that they engage in every day – waking up, going to school, coming home, et cetera – and now they have no routine. And they’re quite disconnected from their peers. That’s a huge thing, especially during adolescence,” said Dr. Debra Katzman, senior associate scientist at Toronto SickKids and co-founder of its eating disorders program.
“(And) they’re not with their teachers or their coaches who are able to identify these very life-threatening disorders quite early.”
Reports have also suggested an increase in the use of alcohol and drugs in both adults and youth during this prolonged period of uncertainty.
To that end, PHS and Lynwood’s new resource also provides information about locally available addictions services.
“The impact of COVID-19 on the mental and emotional well-being of families, especially children and youth, is real and concerning,” said Louise Murray-Leung, Family Engagement Lead of the Lynwood Charlton Centre and Volunteer Chapter Leader for PCMH Hamilton.
“The best thing families can do is to reach out with any questions or concerns they have.”
In the meantime, Lynwood and PHS offer the following tips for families to help support their children’s mental health:
- Listen to your child’s questions and concerns.
- Validate and support your child in a calm manner.
- Be patient with yourself and your child, know that it is normal to have many emotions.
- Help your child to focus on what is within their control.
- Have a routine at home that includes time for fun.
- Stay connected with important people in your child’s life while following current public health measures.
To access the resource page and to learn more about mental health supports visit the City of Hamilton website.