Mental Health and Well-Being Snapshot: November 2022
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Supporting Well-being at Home
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A child's experiences at home can have a tremendous impact on how they function at school, and into their adult life.  Healthy relationships at home and engaged, supportive caregivers are also key protective factors for child and youth mental health. And for youth experiencing mental illness, involved and unconditionally supportive parents will make the journey easier. For all of those reasons and more, in this Snapshot we'll be focusing on different resources to support child and youth well-being from home.

Where to start when seeking support for your child

There are many fantastic services and practitioners in the child and youth mental health system, but it's not always obvious where to start. The first of these two videos from Kelty Mental Health outlines a few different avenues parents can use to seek support for their child. The second video in the series describes what parents should expect when meeting with a care provider, and ways they can prepare for the meeting.

Video 1 - Where can Families Start?
Video 2 - What can Families Expect Along the Way?

What helps at home - voices of youth and families

FamilySmart has tapped into the voices of youth and families to gather ideas for ways to make hard conversations work at home, and what youth are saying about helpful and unhelpful actions and expectations.

Here are some of their recommendations for conversations:
  • Instead of saying "you need to just stop hanging out with those people," try asking "tell me what you like about them."
  • Instead of "Why don’t you ever tell me what’s going on?" try, "I’m here for you. Let me know how I can support you."
  • Replace "you need to calm down," with "I can see you’re really upset, I’m here if you need me."

And what youth are saying they need:
  • “Be honest with me. I can tell when you are having a bad day, so don’t pretend everything is okay. Instead, show me how to deal with a bad day. Model it for me.”
  • “I need you to be a safe place, a place where you don’t judge and criticize me.”
  • “Don’t ‘Google’ what’s wrong with me. Help me find real answers.”

Read more about what families and youth are saying at the links below.
Family Smart - Some Ideas for Helping Conversations Go Better
Family Smart - What to Expect From Me
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Try EASE at Home for anxiety

Anxiety can make day-to-day activities such as school incredibly difficult for children and teens. While accessing professional support can often be very helpful, there are also many things that parents can help with at home to support children and youth with anxiety.

Everyday Anxiety Strategies for Educators (EASE) is a program to develop and practice anxiety coping strategies at school. There are partner resources for parents to try at home called EASE at Home. At the K-7 level, these are focused on naming feelings and worries, taking brave steps to challenge them, and calming strategies. At the 8-12 level, these themes continue, as well as strategies for specific concerns such as procrastination and public speaking.

An image from a K-7 resource is shown below, and both sites can be accessed at the following links:

EASE at Home - K-7
EASE at Home - 8-12
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Free ADHD Course for Parents

BC Children's Hospital and Healthy Minds Learning have put together an eight module course that helps caregivers gain tools and strategies to support their loved ones with ADHD. There is also an informative and myth-busting video on the landing page, which offers some intros to the types of content you could learn in the course.

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Have a cat at home? You're one step closer to "getting" adolescent behaviour!

I heard a humorous analogy recently, on a podcast about substance use and youth. Art Steinmann, an expert in the field, was talking about his own experience, and he shared these observations: ...


Supporting after a crisis

A mental health crisis can lead to intervention from multiple specialists and professionals in a hospital setting. While those interventions are usually very helpful, ultimately after that hospital stay, the parents and caregivers will be the ones trying to make the care/safety plan work. This can be daunting and frustrating, and sometimes parents are not feeling well-equipped to provide ongoing support after a mental health crisis. 

To meet this need, FamilySmart has put together a series of free workshops, offered each month, called "Help for the Hard Times." These workshops equip caregivers to support a safety plan, take care of themselves, and find further resources. Learn more and register here.
Check your assumptions
Our understanding about child and youth mental health and well-being has evolved a lot over the last few decades, and continues to shift as the influences on children and youth rapidly change. This is why we're hoping to have a recurring focus on a new learning that counters previous assumptions some of us may have about this topic in this "check your assumptions" section. 
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Video games don't provide any cognitive benefit, right?

In our household, and I'm sure many others, video games are the source of a lot of disagreements - from the type of video games allowed, to the duration and frequency that the kids want vs the adults' expectations. Some of this, we have to admit, stems from our own mistaken belief that video games have, at best, zero benefit for cognitive development, and at worst may have detrimental effects. Well, a recent study should ease some of those concerns for parents who share those worries.

Researchers at the University of Vermont analyzed data from 2000 nine and ten-year-olds, making comparisons between those who played video games and those who didn't. What they found was that "the children who reported playing video games for three or more hours per day were faster and more accurate on both cognitive tasks than those who never played...[and] that children who played video games for three or more hours per day showed higher brain activity in regions of the brain associated with attention and memory than did those who never played." 

Does this mean that gaming should replace other mentally stimulating activities like card games with family, or playing piano? Probably not. But is it an argument for trading TV time for video game time sometimes? Maybe. At the very least, maybe it can calm some of that parental anxiety about screen time that we often feel.

Additional Resources

Community Supports

We've mentioned many of these resources in the past, but with this focus on supporting at home, many of them are worth revisiting for parents who might consider tapping into an external support for help.

Saanich Child and Youth Mental Health - Can work with children, their parents, or both to support mental health challenges. Services include counselling and assessment.

Discovery Youth and Family Services - If substance use is a concern, either for your child or someone they care about, Discovery can provide counselling support.

Integrated Mobile Crisis Response Team (IMCRT) - This specialized team can respond to a mental health crisis at home, and operates from 1:00PM-midnight every day.

Foundry Youth Clinic - Services include a parent peer support which can provide valuable naviation support for parents.

Boys and Girls Club - Provides workshops and support groups for parents.

Mental Wellness Hub

Saanich School District's Mental Wellness Hub is another place where resources connected with family and home support are collected. We try to update the site regularly, so please check back often!