Since early 2020, COVID-19 has impacted the mental health of many children, youth and families. Opportunities that help to manage and protect mental health have become more limited, such as support from family and friends, face to face connections at school, and extra-curricular activities.
To help those looking for mental health support for children and youth during COVID-19, Hamilton Public Health Services alongside the Lynwood Charlton Centre have created a resource webpage. The webpage includes information about:
• recognizing the signs of a mental health concern;
• mental health services;
• substance use services and resources;
• supporting child and youth mental health during COVID-19, including a youth-focused section with ways that youth can help to support their own mental health.
Youth involved with the Lynwood Charlton Youth Engagement Co-Development Team have shared personal stories about how COVID-19 has affected their mental health. 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 Youth Engagement Co-Development Team is 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.
“The impact of COVID-19 on the mental and emotional well-being of families, especially children and youth, is real and concerning,” says Louise Murray-Leung, Family Engagement Lead, Lynwood Charlton Centre and Volunteer Chapter, PCMH Hamilton.
“The best thing families can do is to reach out with any questions or concerns they have. This can lead to helpful, timely support for their child or youth, which benefits everyone in the family. The City of Hamilton's new child and youth mental health web page is a welcome added resource providing useful tips for youth, families and caregivers and clear information about where to find help for their mental health concerns.”
Knowing that a lot of children and youth are struggling, there are some general ways that families can support their 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.
For a list of local mental health and addictions services during COVID-19 for children and youth, visit www.hamilton.ca/CYmentalhealth
. Quick Facts
• No cost mental health services are available in Hamilton for children, youth and their families. Support is available by phone, virtually and in-person.
• For mental health services and resources during COVID-19 for adults, visit www.hamilton.ca/COVIDmentalhealth
. Additional Resources
• McMaster Children’s Hospital #CaringDuringCOVID video series
• YourSpace Hamilton sessions
• School Mental Health Ontario
• Youth Mental Health Resource Hub
• How to Cope with Physical Distancing – Kids Help Phone