From crisis response to recovery planning

We remain committed to supporting service providers and agencies as we begin — collectively and cautiously — to emerge from the pandemic. Ever evolving client needs and new working realities are top of mind as we all transition from crisis response to recovery planning.

New webinar series: Spotlight on COVID-19 recovery

Our new webinar series brings together agency leaders, clinicians, young people, family members and other experts to explore key issues our sector is facing as we begin to emerge from the pandemic. Selected topics correspond with our sector’s most pressing needs, as determined by a sector-wide survey. See Additional resources below for recordings of previous webinars in this series

Upcoming webinars

The next webinar will take place in September. Subscribe to page updates to receive notifications when we post webinar recordings or add more information about upcoming dates and topics.

What topics are in the works?

We’re breaking for the summer, but we’ll pick up the series again in the fall with bi-monthly webinars through spring 2023. Here are the topics we’re working on:

  • leading from an anti-racist, anti-oppressive lens
  • design thinking and solution-based approach to problem-solving
  • self-care for leaders and service providers
  • collaborative problem-solving

Subscribe to page updates to receive notifications when we add more information. Please note that topics are subject to further refinement and change

Understanding the impact on young people and families

From the outset, we saw that provincial and federal measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 would have a significant impact on the daily lives of Ontario’s children, young people and families. That’s why we launched a research project with the CHEO Research Institute to better understand the impacts and how we — and others in our sector — could better support children, young people and families during and after the pandemic.

One year later, we took the research a step further to check in on how young people were doing, what mental health services and supports they had accessed since the beginning of the pandemic and how these services could be improved.

Here’s what we learned from what young people, parents and caregivers had to say:

Additional resources

The following evidence summaries and webinars were compiled and developed to support agencies’ and service providers’ unique information needs throughout the pandemic.

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Evidence summaries

The impacts of COVID-19 on child and youth mental health (February 2022)

This is a companion to our July 2020 evidence summary looking at the impacts of COVID-19 on child and youth mental health. As the pandemic wears on, peer-reviewed literature on the topic progresses. Continuing to deepen our understanding of the impacts can help service providers best prepare for and meet client needs and guide evidence-based decision making for the sector. This document explores the most recent evidence, drawing from peer-reviewed and grey literature published in 2020 and 2021. Findings are organized thematically by mental health challenge.

Read the evidence summary

Mental health impacts of screen use for children and young people (August 2021)

Physical distancing measures pushed a lot of education, socialization and recreation online, meaning many children and young people have been spending six or more hours a day on screens throughout the pandemic. But even before, a lot of them were already exceeding guidelines and recommendations for screen time use. This document summarizes the latest evidence on the mental health impacts of screen use and highlights ways screen time can be managed to reduce negative effects.

Read the evidence summary

Back to school (September 2020)

The beginning of the school year can be a big adjustment for children and young people in a normal year. In 2020 and 2021, they also faced extraordinary circumstances related to the pandemic and infection control and prevention measures. To support service providers, young people and families in addressing stress related to back-to-school plans, we partnered with Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) and developed a suite of evidence reviews, resources and tools.

Supporting bereaved families (August 2020)

Throughout the course of the pandemic, some children, young people and families experienced the loss of loved ones due to COVID-19 or other causes. Physical distancing restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have made it difficult for people to be present or to physically comfort family members or friends who are ill or dying. Together with Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO), we compiled information and links to help child and youth mental health service providers support families experiencing grief during the pandemic.

Read the evidence summary

Additional evidence summaries


Building routines, rituals and resilience in a hybrid workspace (June 2022)

Over the past couple of years, resilience has often meant “just deal with it” or “just pivot”, but that’s not sustainable long-term. What does it mean to engage in resilience-building post-pandemic? What misconceptions and barriers do leaders face? How can developing routines and rituals improve team culture and build a healthy workforce that is best prepared to support children, young people and families?

This webinar, offered in collaboration with Children’s Mental Health Ontario, explored these questions and more, including how developing routines and rituals that meet the needs of diverse teams can improve team culture and build healthy workforces that can, in turn, best support children, young people and families. Panelists included sector leaders and subject matter experts sharing effective strategies, best practices and recommendations.

Watch the webinar recording

Leading in a hybrid workspace: Moving our teams from surviving to thriving (May 2022)

All facets of our lives have undergone big changes over the past couple of years, including how we interact and work with our colleagues. Our sector has not only transitioned to a hybrid service delivery model, but also a hybrid workspace.

This webinar, offered in collaboration with Children’s Mental Health Ontario, explored what exactly we mean by "hybrid" and the learning curves leaders have faced in ensuring teams thrive in a hybrid workspace. Panelists included sector leaders and subject matter experts sharing effective strategies, best practices and recommendations for adapting leadership styles in a hybrid landscape.

Watch the webinar recording

A balancing act: Screen use and mental health among children and young people (April 2022)

Screen time isn’t a new concern, but the pandemic changed the scale of the issue and we’re seeing the impacts of technology overuse on child and youth mental health. This webinar consisted of a panel discussion and a facilitated question and answer period focusing on reducing and mitigating the challenges associated with excessive screen use.

Panelists included a CHEO psychiatrist, a service provider, a young person and a family member, all sharing their own experiences, strategies, tips and tools to help service providers support families.

Watch the webinar recording

Take good care: Conversations about leading and managing well-being in challenging times (April 2021)

Balancing leadership responsibilities and decision-making for an organization with one’s personal well-being and family life is no small feat at the best of times. For this webinar, we were joined by senior leaders from health, mental health and community contexts to discuss their approach to leadership during the pandemic and how they’re sustaining their own mental health and wellness to ward off burnout and continue to meet the challenges ahead.

Watch the webinar recording

Don’t have time to watch the full webinar? Take a look at the summary, with links to relevant tools and resources.

Read the summary document

Additional webinars

Peer-reviewed publications

Families, Systems & Health, March 2022

Article title: Parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic: The sociodemographic and mental health factors associated with maternal caregiver strain

Read the article

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new stressors for parents (“caregivers”) that may affect their own and their child’s mental health. We explored self-reported levels of caregiver strain (parents’ perceived ability to meet parenting demands), and the mental health and sociodemographic factors of caregivers to identify predictors of strain that can be used to guide mental health service delivery for families. Over 75% of participants reported “moderate-to-high” caregiver strain. More than 25% of caregivers rated their mental health as “poor” and 20% reported moderate-to-severe anxiety. We found a relationship between child age, child and caregiver mental health variables and caregiver strain. Given the interrelatedness of these factors, supporting caregivers’ mental health and lessening their role strain becomes critical for family well-being. Evidence-based individual, family and public health strategies are needed to alleviate pandemic-related strain.

JAMA Pediatrics, February 2022

Article title: Utilization of Physician-Based Mental Health Care Services Among Children and Adolescents Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Ontario, Canada

Read the article

Abstract: Public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have heightened distress among children and adolescents and contributed to a shift in delivery of mental health care services. The main objectives of this study were to measure and compare physician-based outpatient mental health care utilization before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and quantify the extent of uptake of virtual care delivery. We found that physician-based outpatient mental health care in Ontario increased during the pandemic, accompanied by a large, rapid shift to virtual care. There was a disproportionate increase in use of mental health care services among adolescent female individuals. System-level planning to address the increasing capacity needs and to monitor quality of care with such large shifts is warranted.