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Montreal Families

Kids Help Phone plays pivotal role during pandemic

For more than 30 years, children and youth needing someone to talk with have been able to count on the services and crisis responders of Kids Help Phone. As Canada’s only 24/7 e-mental health service,  Kids Help Phone offers free and confidential support in English and French and can be reached by phone, text, mobile app or online.

In addition to its current resources, the service has a self-directed tool for youth that aims to support their mental health through the practice of mindfulness.

A much-needed break

After an unrelenting two years, its mindfulness colouring book provides an activity devoted to self-care that aims to lessen anxiety and stress. Taking time for yourself and practicing mindfulness — which Kids Help Phone describes as “giving your full attention to the present moment in an open and non-judgmental way” — can help relax the body and mind.

Colouring and art therapy have been shown to reduce stress across a wide variety of ages. Studies have shown that mindfulness art therapy decreased the negative physical and emotional distress experienced by women undergoing cancer treatments, while colouring geometric designs reduced anxiety in undergraduate students. Creative activities can also be useful in helping children and adults cope with depression, anxiety, and trauma.

Kids Help Phone invites users to take some time to reflect on the five positive affirmations that are available as colouring pages on its website. The phrases for the activity were chosen with the feedback from the members of the Kids Help Phone National Youth Council and Indigenous Advisory Council.

To get started: Visit kidshelpphone.ca/get-info/try-mindfulness-colouring-book/

Choose from any of the five pages, and either print out the blank page and colour by hand or use your mouse to do so virtually. You can save and download your image at any time or print out your finished piece to share on social media with the tag @kidshelpphone

Doctors and hospitals call to prioritize mental health

Since the start of the pandemic, Children’s Hospitals across the country have reported a surge in children and youth requiring help for mental health and physical conditions.

A call to action by Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, SickKids, and researchers from the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto called on governments, educators, community organizations, parents, and other stakeholders to prioritize children’s health and development during the COVID-19 pandemic. The document cites isolation, increased screen time, fewer sports opportunities, school closures, fear and stress as “associated with disruptions to critical developmental milestones, increased symptoms of anxiety and depression in children of all ages, increases in speech delay in young children, and a rise in emergency department visits for eating disorders.”

In the past two years, Quebec pediatricians have asked the government to prioritize adolescent mental health when making decisions about the pandemic. And at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, the Just for Kids Foundation has brought in a full-time social worker to the ER to help support the increase in children requiring mental health services.

A surge in need

Data supplied in a Kids Help Phone May 13, 2021 press release reported that the service supported over 4.6 million interactions with young people in 2020 through phone, text, live chat and self-directed resources through the gateway portal — a staggering increase compared to the 1.9 million interactions in 2019.

“We know first hand the toll the pandemic is taking – especially in the third wave. We hear from young people every single day, even at 2 a.m., talking about issues of grief, loss, isolation, and suicide,” said Katherine Hay, President & CEO, Kids Help Phone. “Amidst the tough times, there is hope as increasing numbers of young people are reaching out to Kids Help Phone to help them cope.”

Free, confidential support across Canada 24/7

  • By text
    Text ‘CONNECT’ to 686868 to reach a crisis responder in English or French.
  • By Facebook Messenger
    Send a message using the Messenger app or Facebook website.
  • By Phone
    Reach a professional counsellor by calling 1-800-668-6868.
  • Live chat counselling
    Connect online with a professional counsellor in real-time in English or French. Open daily from 7 p.m. to midnight ET.
  • Adults of all ages can:
    Text ‘WELLNESS’ to 741741 to reach a crisis responder in English or French, who may then refer you to another service to get the support you need.

Learn more at kidshelpphone.ca or follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @KidsHelpPhone.

Related reads:
Funds needed for youth mental health
Prioritize adolescent mental health

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