I have been informed that Dr. Timothy Hogan, supervisor of psychological services of the Ottawa District School Board will be starting the presentation off with a report on the board's mental health strategy as well as some corresponding statistics.
Dr. Hogan steps up to the mic and greets everyone for the evening. He will also be the moderator for the evening.
Hogan announces that there is a slight line-up change tonight in speakers. Dr. Kathleen Pajar is ill and Dr. Hazen Gandy will be stepping in to fill Pajar's spot. He has worked in most of the mental health services offered by CHEO in the past 20 years.
Hogan introduces the presentation with the board's approaches on their mental health services. He indicates that a psychologist works in the district schools half a day a week working in the school. Residents from the University of Ottawa also working as psychologists.
The strategy was developed about 2 years ago, he says. They were given money from the ministry to develop a mental health program. "We did a study of all of our schools.. Out of that we developed a strategy," he says. On service delivery program, mental health promotion, capacity building, evidence based practiced and working with community partners are some keystones in their approach.
Another strategy is building awareness within the school communities between students, parents and staff, says Hogan.
Each of the school has a multi disciplinary team composed of a number of specialists who are in the school every week. "At the tier one level at the classroom level, we are attempting to develop programming that will enhance a student's well-being," Hogan stresses. We want our students to be flourishing, be active and be resilient. If we do the right things in the classroom on an ongoing basis.. we can prevent many of the problems we have felt have came forward."
"Our manager of mental health surveyed 155 schools in the system and got reports back," Hogan told. Anxiety and depression was identified as the most prevalent concern across the district.
Hogan speaks on the clear connection between mental illness with youth who have learning disabilities: "You don't find many kids who have learning problems who don't experience anxiety and depression."
Hogan said their child and youth care workers are involved in counselling and trained in intervention and urgent care processes.
Behavioural problems with kindergarten students are discussed with a focus on incorporating 'nap time' into the classroom. Hogan : "'There are kids that are going to school for longer than we are going to work and we wonder why they have explosive behaviour."
The OCDS has been working with community partners such as CHEO, The Royal, YSB, Crossroads, CAS, You Turn, Rideauwood, Dave Smith and Wabano.
A spokesperson from CHEO steps up to thank the OCDS. "We've been doing these conversations for a number of years now, and we really appreciate hearing from Dr. Hogan on what the OCDS has been up to."
"Like Tim talks about there have been dramatic incidents of children coming to emerge have really caused us to pause and think about it. The last 11 months have been really intense," she says. "After a year of working on this we touch on about 800 people in the community. It was incredibly important feedback to us."
Dr. Smita Thatte steps up to start her talk it will include: the facts of mental health in Canada, some of the changes in Canada and common disorders in children and youth.
Thatte begins her presentation with some statistics. "15-25 % of Canadians experience at least one mental health problem before the age of 19," she says.
Thatte: "Adolescent is a major period for the development of major psychiatric disorders." She adds that if they are not treated they can get more severe in adulthood.
Thatte talks of developmental issues where youth are facing a lot of challenges. She says there is a common misconception that most teens have a mental disorder.
Thatte said mental distress is more common in youth, which is less severe.
"Sometimes it is difficult to differentiate between distress and disorder," she says "There is overlap with multiple symptoms," "Feeling unhappy or feeling quiet anxious does not necessarily mean you have a disorder," she adds.
Some mental health warning signs consist of : perisistant low mood, social withdrawl, loss of interest, pleasurable activities, poor concentration, changes in eating and sleeping
Current issues in mental health issues in Canada consist of : anxiety disorders, ADHD, mood disorders, eating disorders, psychosis, substance abuse, intentional self harm and suicide, she reports
Thatte says that anxiety and depression are the most common in her experience of study, reiterating what Hogan earlier shared.
In her slides, Thatte shares that bipolar and depression is much higher in the young female population.
Thatte: "Substance abuse is very worrisome because it is on the increase." She adds the most common substances are marijuana and stimulants such as crack cocaine, speed and ecstasy.
Lastly, she touches on suicide which is one of the top three causes of death among youth. "In Canada it is the second leading cause of death among youth between the ages of 15 and 19," she reports.
"I think one of the things is we can always assess the risk factors of suicide, but we cannot predict it which makes people nervous," Thatte says.
Thatte says there have been a number changes in the hospital over a number of years. These include the heavy use of social media, increase of emergency visits, increase of self harm behaviour, increased substance abuse, and increased presentations of drug psychosis. Medicalization of marijuana has not helped this she said
She said the good thing about this generation is that they are more willing to talk about their feelings and problems.
Thatte says that great exposure to social media has an issue of exposing this current generation to adult issues earlier and depending on their family members less.
Thatte said there are some concerns with the use of social media with respect to the younger generation: "This generation is just learning and engaging differently. We just need to adapt."
Concerns with the generation: always connected with there peers, superficial connections and very close relationships, connected socially but isolated internally, looking to peers and not parents for advice. "These attachments can be dangerous," she says "Peers can turn on you... Those peers do not provide secure attachments because they are going through the same transitions," she adds.
There is increased exposure to online bullying and sexting. This type of bullying has increased. She also touches on "Facebook depression": "The definition is different about how many friends you have now," she said. Thatte explains that most youth will sit in front of a computer and stress over Facebook statistics such as number of friends, number of likes and number of shares on posts and photos.
But again she says social media is also a good thing because the youth are better informed and educated on a lot of issues.
On our current mental health status: 15-17 year olds are the largest numbers with emergency department visits. There has also been a 75% increase in CHEO's emergency department since 2009, she reports.
BUT... there is no evidence to suggest that the prevalence of mental disorders in this age group has actually grown. Thatte says she thinks this decreasing is a cause of decrease in stigma, increase in mental health awareness, increased willingness to seek help and more access to primary care.
Thatte touches again on the exposure of social media and its impact on the youth. "Self harm is often observed [on social media] and it is contagious, so if peers are engaging in that, others think it is okay to do that to cope with that stress... If you look at cyberbullying, the messages never stop. It continues even after school is over."
Thatte says there is no evidence that supports that smoking marijuana is caused by psychotic, but there is a strong association between the two.
She closes her presentation looking toward the future: "We need to continue to increase awareness and early identification to receive appropriate evidence based treatments... We need to help youth to have the appropriate attachments and supports... We cannot do it alone, but need to form a system of strong collaboration and integration in all sectors."
Dr. Gandy from CHEO steps up to the podium. "My presentaiton is supposed to be more of a conversation... way more kids die from mental illness than paediatric cancer," he reports
Gandy says this presentation is him sharing his personal perspectives working with patients. First topic: how do parents support and engage kids?
Gandy shows the audience a diagram of the brain on his first slide and explains its functions.
"What children struggle with is the control of their emotions, it's because the frontal lobe is responsible for modulating those emotions and it's premature," he explains. "In this context.. our job as parents is to act as their surrogate frontal lobe, because their frontal lobe doesn't have the capacity to make good judgement."