VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s children’s representative says the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified inadequacies in mental health services as experts brace for rising rates of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress in children and young people.
“Going forward, we would be very wise to invest significantly more in mental health,” given the pre-pandemic shortfalls and the benefits over time, said Jennifer Charlesworth in an interview.
Her office released a review Thursday of previous studies focused on kids’ mental health after infectious disease outbreaks and natural disasters.
The review was led by Dr. Charlotte Waddell, the director of the children’s health policy centre at Simon Fraser University.
Long-term studies and data are needed to assess exactly how the pandemic is affecting kids’ development and mental health in B.C. and beyond, said Waddell, but she’s concerned.
“The studies that we examined really strongly predict that we’re going to see significant increases in the number of kids with anxiety, post-traumatic stress, depression and behaviour challenges,” said Waddell, who’s a specialist in child and adolescent psychiatry.
The Representative for Children and Youth receives hundreds of reports and calls from youth and advocates each month, said Charlesworth, and throughout the pandemic her office has noticed concerning trends related to mental health, substance use and family violence.
Both Waddell and Charlesworth emphasized that the pandemic is expected to have an inordinate effect on children living with pre-existing conditions and vulnerabilities, including those in foster care or in families that were already struggling with job loss and financial insecurity.
In their review, Waddell and her colleagues evaluated 60 articles published in the last 70 years, though they didn’t find any studies on mental health related to COVID-19 and children because the pandemic is still unfolding.
One 2009 study focused on kids’ mental health in parts of North America hit by outbreaks of avian influenza, the swine flu and severe acute respiratory system, or SARS.
It showed 20 per cent of 369 children surveyed had been isolated and 3.8 per cent had been quarantined. Of those children, 30 per cent exceeded the clinical threshold for post-traumatic stress symptoms, compared with 1.1 per cent of kids who did not isolate. When parents met or exceeded the same post-traumatic stress threshold, 85.7 per cent of their children did too, compared with 14.3 per cent of youngsters whose parents did not.
The good news, said Waddell, is that clinicians know how to effectively treat and prevent such challenges.
But children and their parents were already facing a stark shortfall in mental health supports before the pandemic and it now demands a massive scaling up, she said.
Waddell pointed to recent estimates that nearly 800,000 kids in Canada meet thresholds for a mental disorder needing treatment, but fewer than half are accessing support services.
Many people will need help as the pandemic runs its course, said Waddell, adding her plea is that children aren’t forgotten among the competing demands for resources.
“If we don’t address this, we are really talking about what will happen to our next generation of Canadian nurses and teachers and front-line workers of all types and we cannot turn away from this. We cannot afford not to address this, to really keep the kids in the foreground.”
Dr. Ashley Miller, a psychiatrist at B.C. Children’s Hospital, echoed Waddell, saying without long-term data it’s tough to glean exactly how the pandemic and restrictions are affecting kids.
Anecdotally, she said, clinicians are seeing a range of experiences; the pandemic may not have significant adverse effects if young kids have nurturing relationships with their primary caregivers, while others are presenting with deepening anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and eating disorders.
Miller said the nature and extent of restrictions limiting social interactions and other activities is also a factor.
“If parents are under substantial stress — financial stress, their own mental health issues, relationship issues and certainly domestic violence, then that can have a profound affect the development of young children who are growing up in the household.”
The pandemic has also led to a drop in calls to child protection services, which Miller said is “concerning because we assume that there’s more need but that the systems of care, whether it’s schools or other programming where kids would be seen, they’re not having as much access to right now.”
Miller said many children are resilient but it’s difficult to say how quickly they will transition back to “pre-COVID” ways of interacting with each other, like hugging or sharing food.
Some kids will adapt fairly quickly once they see how adults are behaving, she said, while others who had problems before the pandemic may be stuck in those patterns for longer.
“Is there more (obsessive-compulsive disorder) after the pandemic, because people have become so accustomed to avoiding touching surfaces?” asked Miller. “That’s the kind of thing where we’ll start looking for.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 12, 2020.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Ontario parents can now apply for second COVID-19 payout. Here's how – CTV Toronto
Just in time for the holidays, Ontario parents can now apply for their second COVID-19 payment from the provincial government.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford made the announcement during a news conference on Monday, saying the funds aim to help parents struggling due to additional learning and child-care costs amid the pandemic.
“There are thousands of families out there who have made sacrifices, who’ve taken seriously the public health advice, and who have gone that extra mile to make sure their child can learn safely,” Ford told reporters.
“We will always be there to support each and every single person in this province. That’s why I’m proud to announce that starting today the portal is open for applications for the ‘Support for Learners’ program.”
Parents of children aged 12 or younger will be able to receive a one-time payment of $200 per child, and $250 for children 21 years of age or younger with special education needs.
The portal is open to all eligible parents in Ontario, whether their children attend school in-person, online, or both.
“This financial support will help families cover the unexpected costs of school supplies, and other learning resources, especially for our youngest learners,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce told reporters.
“The money will be deposited directly into your accounts within roughly two weeks following your verification.”
The province said the application for the “direct one-time payments” can be submitted online and parents have until Jan. 15 of next year to apply.
This is the second payout from the province to Ontario families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first payout came in the spring. The government said it will spend $380 million on the second payout to parents, on top of the $378 million from the first round.
Winnipeggers in 30s, 40s among new COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba – CBC.ca
A Winnipeg man in his 30s and a Winnipeg woman in her 40s are among 11 new COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba, health officials say.
Manitoba hit a new record high for COVID-19 hospitalizations with 342 people in hospital on Monday, as the province added 343 new cases to its total. There are 43 positive patients in intensive care units, down one from Sunday.
Seven of the deaths are connected to outbreaks at long-term care homes, including a man and a woman in their 80s at Fairview Personal Care Home.
The deaths also include a woman in her 70s linked to the outbreak in the GA3 unit at Health Sciences Centre, a man in his 80s linked to the Villa Youville personal care home, a man in his 80s linked to the Charleswood Care Centre, a man in his 80s linked to Golden Links Lodge, a woman in her 90s linked to St. Norbert Personal Care Home, a man in his 90s linked to the Bridgepark Manor assisted living facility, and a Winnipeg woman in her 90s.
Manitoba’s test-positivity rate is 13.4 per cent, a slight increase of 0.1 percentage points from Sunday but still lower than at any other point last week.
Outbreaks at the Women’s Correctional Centre in Headingley and the Keeyask Generating Station near Thompson have been declared over.
New outbreaks have been declared at the Lakeshore General Hospital in Ashern and West Park Manor Personal Care Home in Winnipeg.
The Winnipeg health region produced the majority of new cases, with 207 confirmed infections, while the Southern Health region had the second most, with 53. The rest of the cases were in the Northern Health region (46), Interlake-Eastern health region (23) and Prairie Mountain Health region (14).
Manitoba has now had 16,825 confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with 9,260 reported as still active, although that number is likely inflated due to a backlog in clearing recovered cases.
A boy under 10 is the youngest person to die of COVID-19 in Manitoba, health officials announced on Saturday.
Two Manitoba churches, Church of God and Springs Church, held drive-in services on the weekend, in violation of public health orders capping gatherings at five people and ordering religious services to move online.
Winnipeg School Division teachers will walk thousands of students through an in-class exercise on Tuesday that’s meant to simulate what it could be like if the entire school system is suddenly forced to learn remotely.
57 cases of COVID-19, one death reported in Niagara after the weekend – ThoroldNews.com
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Niagara increased by 57 over the weekend, counting Monday’s numbers, but without making a significant impact on the number of active cases across the region, which right now sits at 204.
The daily breakdown:
The region said Monday’s number is not complete, as the reporting had left some cases out, and cautions that Tuesday’s numbers therefore might look higher.
NRPH also reports one new COVID-19-related death on Monday, bringing the region’ss death toll to 84.
One outbreak in a health-care facility was also declared over.
There are 7 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities and 11 other outbreaks.
Public Health Ontario has confirmed 1,746 new cases of COVID-19 today, which is 38 fewer than yesterday. There were more than 1,700 cases reported on both Saturday and Sunday.
Of today’s new cases, most are confined to the Greater Toronto Area. There are 390 new cases confirmed in Peel Region, 622 cases in Toronto and 217 in York Region; that represents 1,229 — or 70 per cent — of the new lab-confirmed cases reported over the past 24 hours.
The agency also reported eight more deaths related to the coronavirus over the past 24 hours. Yesterday, 24 deaths were reported.
More than 1,320 cases have been resolved since yesterday.
Over the past 24 hours, 39,406 tests were completed, which is about 14,600 fewer than the record number of tests processed Friday.
According to today’s data, the positivity rate is 4.4 per cent; that means 4.4 people out of every 100 people tested have the coronavirus.
Since the start of the pandemic, public health labs in Ontario have processed more than 6.2 million COVID-19 tests.
Throughout Ontario, there are 618 people currently hospitalized with the coronavirus, but the agency notes that a number of hospitals (approximately 40) did not submit data for Nov. 28.
Ontario parents can now apply for second COVID-19 payout. Here's how – CTV Toronto
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