The Focal Point feature of this first edition of CHECKPOINT is from the desks of Drs. Simon Davidson and Ian Manion, co-executive directors of the Centre of Excellence and reflects the discussions they have had with many of you over the past months.
You told us about the excellent programs in your communities and the opportunities you see to build on them. Our premise that there are many areas of excellence in child and youth mental health services and research throughout the Province is confirmed. Much of the excellence you identified deals with the networks and partnerships that you have developed at the local and regional levels. Whether these are called alliances, planning tables or community councils, their outcomes contribute significantly to the quality of service provided to children, youth and their families/caregivers.
During many group sessions, we asked you specifically to tell us how to strengthen these services. The need for additional resources is clear. Two broad categories emerged: TOOLS/INFORMATION and AWARENESS. We heard from you that curriculum development, training, the development of best-practice standards, addressing gaps in services, money for resources and research are key. Access to information about best practices and strategies from intervention to wait list management, research, comprehensive and current resource and expertise lists, statistical information as well as information on funding opportunities would be key enablers to improving how you currently work.
The need for greater awareness of child and youth mental health issues, while not a new concern, remains a priority. This awareness needs to extend beyond the ‘public arena’ to also be included across sectors, across regions and across cultures. You told us about how awareness will help balance current models of intervention between community and clinically-based approaches. Awareness of the uniqueness of the North, aboriginal peoples and rural communities will bring an added dimension to the care of the young people whose needs also have to be communicated as different from others whether by virtue of age, gender, orientation, culture or geography. A more comprehensive and rigorous reporting of your feedback will be provided. These themes however came across loud and clear.
The discussions have not ended. Our meetings are the beginning of an ongoing dialogue. We expect them to remain open and fluid for a very long time. We have meetings scheduled this month in the South West, Toronto and South East regions. We are fostering a culture of open discussion and partnership with you to ensure that the focal point of all of our work remains the children, youth and their families/caregivers, and the system they deserve. In order to succeed, we need all of your input and feedback every step of the way.
Our momentum to address these issues is building. The Centre of Excellence has already distributed nearly $1 million across Ontario through the Grants and Awards programs. At different times, there are competitions open to youth for mental health awareness projects, to service providers to pay for protected time to do research, to community-based and academic researchers, and to mental health related students at all levels. This e-bulletin, CHECKPOINT, is another way we are working to build awareness about the issues facing children, youth and their families as well as all those working with them. We have a Knowledge Exchange Centre where information and tools can be easily shared across the Province. We have been involved in conferences and presentations, meetings and forums and we are only just getting off the ground.
We know that our objective of building an ‘integrated system meeting the mental health needs of children, youth and their families/caregivers in Ontario’ is one that will not quickly be achieved. We, as part of your Centre of Excellence, are committed to supporting you to ensure that individual children and youth receive the optimal care and support available to them.
In upcoming editions of CHECKPOINT, this Focal Point feature will be dedicated to exploring the distinct challenges in varying sectors and in different areas of Ontario. We know that we share some very strong common goals for the children, youth and families/caregivers whose lives we seek to support. In addition, we hope that by exploring our differences, we will become even more aware of our similarities. The synergy and mutual collaboration that we think will result is the foundation on which the improvements to the overall system for child and youth mental health will be achieved.
You asked for information and tools to help meet your needs. Part of our answer is a range of grants and awards. You may be 18 years and under and have some ideas to raise awareness about mental health. You may be looking for help to get some time off your frontline duties to allow for research or perhaps you are in training or interested in re-training. Read here about current and upcoming funding opportunities…
to Dream Program
and Training Awards
The competition for undergraduate awards has recently ended for this calendar year. Please visit our Web site for 2006 application requirements and timelines.
Sharing best practices and building on each other’s successes makes us all stronger and more effective. Read about the success of the Centre for Children Committing Offences’ SNAP™ intervention...
Among other things, Knowledge Exchange is about creating a common ground on which to build. Making connections with like-minded people is a key part of making this happen. Join our Researchers Directory and find other researchers, students and policy-makers in Ontario looking into child and youth mental health issues.
A Wiki helps build a common language and understanding. Add your perspective to our Wiki…
The Provincial Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health at CHEO is pleased to share with you this brief profile of SNAP™, an evidence-based intervention from the Centre for Children Committing Offences (CCCO) at the Child Development Institute (CDI).
Some of you may already be familiar with SNAP™. Based on sound research on the development and course of childhood aggression, SNAP™ is a cognitive behaviour strategy developed for children between the ages of 6 and 12 years exhibiting disruptive behaviour problems such as lying, stealing, and bullying. Parents concurrently receive SNAPP™ (Stop Now and Plan Parenting) training. According to Dr. Leena Augimeri, the Director of the Centre for Children Committing Offences, the strategy helps “children and parents learn to snap their fingers and find appropriate ways to calm down and generate solutions to their problems”.
CCCO has also developed and validated clinical assessment guides for children under 12 that have been shown to predict subsequent criminal activity in adolescence and adulthood. Community-police protocols have also been developed so that families of children in conflict with the law can be connected to relevant local services and supports through timely and reliable referral mechanisms. Effective assessment and referral processes are important complements to SNAP™ treatment.
SNAP™ is however very applicable in any setting where practical strategies are applied to teach self-control and problem-solving skills to school-aged children. In the mid 1970s, CDI developed SNAP™ and in 1985 it became the key ingredient of its programs. There are now 72 SNAP™ affiliated sites around the world. According to a recent survey* of children’s mental health organizations, SNAP™ is one of the ten most commonly used evidence-based treatments in Ontario.
Two successful programs at CCCO that employ SNAP™ – Under 12 Outreach Project for Boys and Earlscourt Girls Connection – are being replicated in other parts of Canada, the U.S. and Europe. CCCO is working with the Child and Family Centre in Sudbury to develop French language manuals so that the program may be replicated in Francophone communities, and to develop culturally appropriate services for First Nations communities. Another exciting development is that CCCO is working with the Griffen Centre in partnership with The Bob Rumball Association for the Deaf to train staff to deliver the SNAP™ technique to hearing impaired children.
Information on SNAP™ licenses, training and workshops can be obtained by emailing the Centre for Children Committing Offences at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit http://childdevelop.ca/programs/snap to learn more about SNAP™ training.
* Barwick, M.A., Boydell, K.M., Stasiulis, E., Ferguson, H.B., Blase, K., & Fixsen, D. (2005).Knowledge transfer and evidence-based practice in children’s mental health. Toronto, ON: Children's Mental Health Ontario.
Doing research is not only for full time academics. In the immortal words of Werner von Braun, "Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing." Regarding child and youth mental health research, however, it's important that a researcher knows what he or she is doing. That's why the Centre of Excellence offers the services of Dr. Raywat Deonandan, epidemiologist. Dr. Ray helps front-line mental health service agencies conduct independent research and develop their own in-house research capacity.
Research or Not to Research
Dr. Ray is the Centre of Excellence's resident epidemiologist, which means that he is an expert in the research of health and illness in populations. As both a qualified teacher and an acclaimed professional writer, he conducts training workshops in grant writing, basic statistics and research concepts. The development of web-based training modules is also in the works. The epidemiology office is open to creating tailor-made educational workshops, to fit an agency's particular needs. By providing these services, the Centre of Excellence hopes to increase research capacity at the local level, so that small agencies can conduct their own studies, apply for research funding where appropriate and ultimately enrich the Province's mental health research agenda with the grassroots needs and perspectives.
To date, Dr. Ray has consulted with agencies wanting to compete for the Centre of Excellence’s research funds. He assisted in linking community groups with established academics, and in improving research designs and analytical strategies to make them more competitive and scientifically rigorous. While, so far, most inquiries have been for help in putting together a competitive grant application for a specific deadline, the Centre of Excellence hopes that in coming months more agencies will get Dr. Ray involved for potential projects throughout the year.
Dr. Ray has years of experience consulting on projects in diabetes, infectious disease, clinical neurology, biotechnology, HIV/AIDS, Aboriginal health, health services research, reproductive and mental health in Canada, the USA, the Caribbean and South Asia. He is a dedicated research generalist who has worked for private industry, academia and both the US and Canadian federal governments.
“Children are a source of joy, delight, and hope. Watching a child grow and develop, it is impossible not to be amazed, and to imagine his or her potential. But when a child has a mental health problem, it can be heart wrenching for parents. Children’s mental health problems impact families, peers, schools, and the community” – Read more about Dr. Graham Reid...
Graham Reid Researches Parenting Matters
Dr. Graham Reid is an Associate Professor with a joint appointment in the Departments of Psychology and Family Medicine at the University of Western Ontario, and the successful recipient of two research grants from the Centre of Excellence. “In my research, says Dr. Reid, I work with people who seek to understand how children develop, how problems with behaviour and emotions emerge, the impact of these problems, and new ways of helping children with mental health problems.”
One of his projects is “Parenting Matters: Helping parents of young children with sleep and discipline problems”. Parents who have concerns about their child’s sleep and discipline are identified when they see their family physician. One of the goals is to see how improvements in sleep impact a child’s behaviour and emotions during the day. As part of Dr. Reid’s research new brief treatments helping parents of 2 to 5 year-olds are being tested. Parenting Matters is a new way to reach the many families in need of help. What Dr. Reid and his team learn from this study could improve a child’s treatment program by helping family physicians to help children with mental health problems.
A second study funded by the Centre of Excellence is entitled “Parents’ conceptualization of child mental health problems: development of a self-report measure”. It is looking at how families get help when their children have psychosocial problems. Although there are many people and places for parents to turn for help when their child is struggling, Dr. Reid and his research team are trying to understand how and why families look for help, and what happens when it is not available. “Essentially, we are looking at what parents think are the causes of their child’s emotional or behavioural problems, because how parents think about their child’s problems influences where they seek help, and the type of help they feel is appropriate for their child,” continued Dr. Reid. Dianne Shanley is co-principal investigator on the study, which will be part of her Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
The Centre of Excellence evaluates research proposals based on two key criteria: scientific merit and a study’s direct relevance to child and youth mental health in the Province of Ontario. These two studies were funded over two years based on high ratings and positive feedback received from an expert panel of internal and external reviewers. These areas of study were also identified as gaps in the literature and in evidence-based practice.
If you are interested in learning more about Graham Reid, his research interests or prefer to contact him regarding these projects, see his Web site at http://psychology.uwo.ca/people/faculty/profiles/reid.html. The outcomes of Dr. Reid’s work will be shared through journal publication and will also be translated into practical knowledge for a range of stakeholders and across a variety of settings through the Centre of Excellence Web site www.excellenceforchildandyouth.ca.
Check out www.excellenceforchildandyouth.ca. Not only does our Web site have a new look; we have some significant new features. From the Researchers Directory to the Wiki Pilot to our growing Library, our Web site gets more and more useful everyday.
The Centre of Excellence itself has a growing complement of staff. We want to introduce you to Amy Boudreau, Administrative Manager. Read on…
As well as being a key administrative link to services and departments at CHEO, Amy took on a leadership role in the further design and implementation of competitive funding opportunities available provincially through the Centre of Excellence. If you are involved in applying for grants or awards, you will undoubtedly be in touch with Amy. We think you’ll agree that she is an asset to the organization.