Wednesday, October 17, 2012

#CHEOConnects - What We Learned

On Monday night this week, we attended the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)'s Mental Health Information Night for parents.

To say there were some interested folks out there would be an understatement.  Nearly 200 parents showed up to listen to a panel of experts talk about Mental Health issues that their children may be facing.

The information night was scheduled months ago, and by sheer coincidence, came less than a week after British Columbia teenage, Amanda Todd, took her own life.  Alex Munter, President of CHEO, acted as the moderator for the evening, asking experts Ian Manion, Phil Ritchie, Neil Gottheil (all Child Psychologists) and Clare Gray (Pediatric Psychiatrist) questions that were submitted by parents in the audience.  It proved to be very well received, as we noticed as the talks when on, more and more parents were handing in their questions.

It was amazing to see so many parents in one room, either there because they are worried about their own children, just wanting to educate themselves, or they have concerns for their children's social circle.  Either way, everyone was there for the same reason - to get answers.  There were lots of questions about anxiety, bullying and how to talk to your child/teenager about suicide - a topical question coinciding with the death of Amanda Todd, and previously, Jamie Hubley and Daron Richardson.

Before and after the session, we were on hand to talk to parents about our services for them.  Our focus was to tell parents that while we aren't able to give them advice, we are here to be a support system for them.  Sometimes, in situations with your children, you can find yourself embarrassed to talk to a friend, another family member or a co-worker, as you may feel like you're being judged for not being a good parent, or not paying close enough attention to your children.  That's not the case when you call the Distress Centre.  We're unbiased, non-judgmental, and just here to listen and provide support for you and your family.

All of the experts took their time in answering questions, and we were tweeting some of their answers & recommendations.  Knowledge is power and the more we are able to share with one another, the more we'll educate the world on Mental Health.  These are some of the tweets that we shared from the event:

  • Don't be afraid to talk to your kids about suicide, keep the door open, emotions good, bad and in between

  • Physically healthier helps teens be mentally healthier

  • Anxiety lives through avoidance. Skills can be implemented to help get through anxiety isssues.

  • Kids that bully are defined as looking to take control and a level of power. Redirect kids to leadership rather than bully

  • Parent should know that our phone line is an excellent way to talk to someone non-judgmental about their kids 613-238-3311

  • Bullying has been taken to another level than it was years ago with social media/cyber space.

  • Boys bully very directly, and girls more indirectly

  • Beware of your children's technology and social media so that if they start to use in a dangerous way you can intervene

  • From psychiatrist - no cells during family time, learn about each other, about their lives beyond what you see.

  • Have your children unplug their electronics 30 minutes before bed - promotes healthy sleep and helps with depression symptoms.

  • Medications are not the only treatment for depression - therapy is also needed

We were so fortunate to be able to attend this event, so thank you to CHEO for allowing us to be there, and put our information in the hands of all of the parents in attendance.

If you're a parent, reading this for the first time, and are wishing you knew about the event, contact CHEO, and put a request in for another session. If you feel as if you could benefit from speaking to one of our amazing volunteers, give us a call at 613-238-3311.

 Our information table at Sir Robert Borden High School, before #CHEOConnects

Alex Munter, President of CHEO (left) asks panel of experts, questions from the audience

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