Child and youth mental health and addictions agencies across Ontario have been working hard to continue to provide services in the face of unprecedented challenges, evolving needs and increasing demand.

Looking for our virtual care resources? See our virtual care page to find all the resources that were here before — and more!

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 (many in partnership with Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO)) to support the delivery of services — and the teams who provide them — in the face of unprecedented challenges, evolving needs and increasing demand.

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Evidence summaries

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

Pandemic impacts on child and youth mental health (July 2020)

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a rapid change to how community mental health services and supports are delivered. We’ve also heard anecdotally that the pandemic has impacted who is accessing services and the range and severity of presenting concerns. This document addresses how agencies can prepare now to ensure they have the capacity to meet the volume and types of emerging mental health needs throughout and after the pandemic.

Read the evidence summary

Check out our related webinar: The impact of COVID-19 on early years mental health

Supporting the wellbeing of mental health service providers (June 2020)

The emergence of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the delivery of child and youth mental health and addictions services in Ontario. Service providers and organizational leaders have been required to shift their usual ways of working to adapt their services and deliver virtual or in-person care safely. These unanticipated changes, along with changes to community and family life in response to the pandemic (e.g. physical distancing, self-isolation and quarantine) have created the perfect storm for the emergence of mental health challenges and burnout across direct service providers.

Read the evidence summary

Talking to children and youth about COVID‑19 (April 2020)

The emergence of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on children, young people and families. To support our community partners during this challenging time, we compiled links to resources published by child and youth mental health organizations, professional associations and relevant organizations, to support discussions between parents or caregivers and children and youth. These resources were gathered through a rapid, non-systematic scan of practice guidelines with an intent to provide support in a timely fashion and reflect information available at the time of writing.

Read the evidence summary

Webinars

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

The impact of COVID-19 on early years mental health (January 2021)

Learn about the first-wave pandemic experiences of Canadian families with children under the age of six and the types of services they did or did not have access to. Hear our recommendations to make sure that families have access to the practical and mental health supports they need to ensure positive social-emotional development in their young children both during and post-pandemic.

Watch the webinar recording

Back to school during COVID-19: What community-based child and youth mental health providers need to know (September 2020)

Back-to-school season can be stressful for many children, young people and families — and the pandemic is adding another layer of complexity to the situation. In partnership with Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO), we hosted a webinar focused on getting ready to support children, young people and their families as they make this transition. In this webinar, panelists shared what we might expect to see in children and young people as they prepare to return to school; what young people and families are telling us they are experiencing and need; and resources, tools and tips to help you support clients.

Watch the webinar recording

Grade 12 to post-secondary: Transitions during COVID-19 (July 2020)

This webinar addressed how staff in both campus and community settings can help build and bridge support for students transition to post-secondary education. This webinar was hosted by CICMH and we presented alongside Children’s Mental Health Ontario, School Mental Health Ontario and Good2Talk.

Watch the webinar recording