Transcript: Helping Kids Bounce Back Amid COVID-19 | May 06, 2021

Steve sits in a room with white walls, a low slanted ceiling and several framed pictures on the walls including one of Walter Kronkite. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a pale blue shirt and a spotted blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Helping kids bounce back amid COVID-19. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says FOR KIDS, THIS PANDEMIC HAS MEANT DISRUPTION FROM TOP TO BOTTOM. NOTHING AS USUAL. NOT SPORTS, SCHOOL, ACTIVITIES, TIME WITH GRANDPARENTS, NO BIRTHDAY PARTIES. AND THAT'S AMIDST FAMILIES THAT ARE STRESSED AS NEVER BEFORE. HOW WELL ARE CHILDREN AND YOUTH COPING? LET'S FIND OUT. WE'RE GOING TO ASK, IN LONDON, ONTARIO, Dr. JAVEED SUKHERA. ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PSYCHIATRY AND PAEDIATRICS AT THE SCHULICH SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AND DENTISTRY AT WESTERN UNIVERSITY. HE IS ALSO A PAST PRESIDENT OF THE ONTARIO PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION...

Javeed is in his forties, with short gray hair and a stubble. He's wearing a gray suit and a blue shirt.

Steve continues IN MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO, Katherine Hay, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE KIDS HELP PHONE.

Katherine is in her fifties, with long brown hair and side-swept bangs. She's wearing a light gray blazer and a pink shirt.

Steve continues says AND IN THE WEST END OF THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL, SHERI TURRELL, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST AND PSYCHO AN LIST AT LIFE IN BALANCE THERAPY AND AUTHOR OF "THE MINDFULNESS AND ACCEPTANCE WORKBOOK FOR TEEN ANXIETY."

Sheri is in her thirties, with chin-length blond hair with pink highlights. She's wearing a red tank top and a black choker necklace.

Steve continues AND WE'RE GLAD TO HAVE YOU THREE ON TVO TONIGHT TO DISCUSSING THAT SADLY IS VERY TIMELY AND IMPORTANT. WE'RE GOING TO START WITH SOME INFORMATION FROM A SICK KIDS HOSPITAL-LED SURVEY. THIS IS A SURVEY OF PARENTS AND YOUTH FROM LAST SPRING.

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Children and youth in a pandemic. Surveying mental health." The quote reads "The study found children and youth experienced relatively similar overall mental health impacts no matter their clinical history. However, those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) reported the greatest deterioration in depression, irritability, attention span and hyperactivity. Having a pre-existing psychiatric or neurodevelopmental diagnosis was associated with both improvements and deterioration in mental health.
One concerning finding for the study team was the significant proportion of otherwise healthy school-aged children who experienced deterioration in a number of mental health domains, including depression, anxiety, irritability, and attention span."
Quoted from SickKids Hospital. February 26, 2021.

Steve says OKAY. LOTS TO DIVE INTO THERE. JAVEED, GET US STARTED WHAT'S YOUR GREATEST CONCERN ABOUT WHAT'S ON THAT LIST?

The caption changes to "Javeed Sukhera. Western University. @javeedsukhera."

Javeed says I THINK MY GREATEST CONCERN IS THAT THERE ARE A LARGE NUMBER OF YOUNG PEOPLE WHO HAVE SIGNIFICANT FUNCTIONALLY LIMITING SYMPTOMS THAT WERE HAVING A HARD TIME GETTING ACCESS TO HEALTH BEFORE THE PANDEMIC AND CLEARLY WE KNOW OF THE CHRONIC STRESSOR OF THE NATURE THAT WE'RE ALL EXPERIENCING PEOPLE'S MENTAL HEALTH IS GOING TO DETERIORATE. MY BIGGEST FEAR IS THAT THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO BUILD UP THE COURAGE TO ASK FOR HELP AND THAT WE WON'T HAVE THE INFRASTRUCTURE TO BE ABLE TO MEET THAT NEED LEADING TO THE LONG WAITING LISTS, ACCESS AND ULTIMATELY WORSENING MENTAL HEALTH FOR A LOT OF YOUNG ONTARIANS.

Steve says KATHY TO YOU NEXT. I'M ASSUMING SOME OF THE KIDS WHO HAVE BEEN REACHING OUT TO KIDS HELP PHONE FOR ADVICE AND ASSURANCE, I'M ASSUMING THOSE NUMBERS HAVE GONE UP IN THE PAST YEAR. IS THAT THE CASE?

The caption changes to "Katherine Hay. Kids Help Phone."

Katherine says THAT IS THE CASE. I DO AGREE WITH JAVEED THAT THERE WAS A PROBLEM WITH COVID AND PUT COVID ON TOP IT'S MADE IT AN EXTREMELY HARD YEAR. OUR VOLUMES HAVE GONE UP ABOUT 140 percent ACROSS CANADA. TO 4.6 MILLION INTERACTIONS WITH YOUNG PEOPLE. AND THE ACUITY OF ISOLATION FEAR HAS GROWN I COULD NOT AGREE WITH THE SICK KIDS HOSPITAL STUDY.

The caption changes to "For more stories and information: tvo.org/MentalHealthWeek."

Steve says 4.6 MILLION INTERACTIONS. JUST EXPLAIN WHAT THAT MEANS, IF YOU WOULD.

Katherine says THAT MEANS IN EVERY PROVINCE AND TERRITORY, 4.6 MILLION TIMES SOMEONE REACHED OUT TO KIDS HELP PHONE TO ANY ONE OF THE SERVICE MODALITIES. MOSTLY WE WILL SEE IT THROUGH SELF HELP AND SELF-DIRECTED TOOLS THAT LEADS THROUGH TO OUR PROFESSIONAL COUNSELLING AND CRISIS RESPONDERS.

Steve says ONE MORE FOLLOW UP. I ASSUME IT'S NOT ONLY KIDS WHO ARE CALLING I PRESUME PARENTS ARE CALLING AS WELL?

The caption changes to "Katherine Hay, @KathyHay."

Katherine says A TYPICAL DAY IS 5 TO 26 IS A TYPICAL DAY BUT WE ALSO HAVE ADULTS AT 2 IN THE MORNING WE'RE THE ONLY PHONE LINE.

Steve says SHERI, IT'S BEEN WIDELY REPORTED THAT YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY EXPERIENCE HIGHER LEVELS OF DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY THAN PREVIOUS GENERATIONS. HOW HAS WHAT THEY'VE EXPERIENCED THIS PAST YEAR ADDED TO THAT ALREADY ESTABLISHED PROBLEM?

The caption changes to "Sheri Turrell. Life in Balance Therapy."

Sheri says I THINK WHAT I'M SEEING IN MY PRACTICE IS SOME OF MY PATIENTS WERE RELIEVED AT THE BEGINNING OF COD OF COVID MUCH LIKE THE SICK KIDS STUDY THE SOCIAL PRESSURE WAS OF 0. BUT IN THE LAST COUPLE OF MONTHS, IN PARTICULAR, EVEN THOSE KIDS ARE NOT FARING SO WELL AND HAVE I A LOT OF NEW PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED MENTAL HEALTH STRUGGLES MANY OF WHOM ARE CALLING THE KIDS HELP PHONE AS WELL. BUT I AGREE, I THINK WHAT I'M SEEING THE MOST OF WHICH IS HEART BREAKING IS THE LACK OF HOPE. AND THE KIDS ARE REALLY LOSING HOPE. THEY CAN'T FOCUS. THEY DON'T SEE A NEW TOUR AND IT'S JUST ABSOLUTELY HEART BREAKING. AND I THINK THEY'RE UNDER A LOT OF PRESSURE. THIS GENERATION. IT'S NOT NEW. BUT I THINK AS YOUNG AS GRADE 7 THEY'RE TOLD BY THEIR PEERS, SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES AROUND THEM YOU'VE GOT TO GET GOOD MARKS TO GET INTO A GOOD HIGH SCHOOL AND A REALLY GOOD UNIVERSITY. IT HAS TO BE A PRESTIGIOUS ONE NOT JUST ANY ONE SO YOU CAN GET A GOOD JOB AND MAKE A LOT OF MONEY. THE PRESSURE IS THERE AND THEY HAVE TO SOLVE THE WORLD'S PROBLEMS WHILE THEY'RE AT IT.

Steve says FORGIVE ME I WHO LOVE TO DISABUSE EVERYBODY THAT EVERYBODY HAS TO GO TO HARVARD OR YALE OTHERWISE THEIR LIFE WILL BE A DISASTER. THAT IS, ON THE FACE OF IT, RIDICULOUS. JAVEED, MORE THAN A YEAR INTO THIS, WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS BEEN THE MOST DAMAGING RISK FOR KIDS BOTH NOW AND IN THE LONG TERM?

Javeed says THE MOST DAMAGING THING IS REALLY HARD TO DISTILL BECAUSE I THINK THIS IS A COMPLEX STRESSOR THAT... NOT JUST KIDS BUT WE'RE ALL EXPERIENCING AS ADULTS. IN THE CONTEXT OF THAT, WHAT I'VE SEEN AND HEARD WITH THE YOUNG PEOPLE I WORK WITH REALLY ARE TWO MAIN CONCERNS. THE FIRST IS HOW THIS HAS AFFECTED LEARNING. NOW, THERE'S NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL. EVERYBODY'S DIFFERENT. SOME PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY DOING OKAY. SO WE HAVE TO RESIST OVERGENERALIZATION. BUT THERE ARE MANY YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE REALLY STRUGGLING WITH DISTANCE LEARNING. THEY LACK THE KINDS OF INDIVIDUAL SUPPORTS THAT THEY NEED. PARTICULARLY YOUNG PEOPLE WHO MIGHT STRUGGLE WITH ATTENTION OR PHYSICAL DISABILITIES ALREADY. AND THAT'S LEADING TO FURTHER DETERIORATION IN THEIR MENTAL HEALTH. THE OTHER GROUP ARE PEOPLE WHO STRUGGLE WITH SITUATIONS WHERE THERE'S HIGH DEGREES OF CONFLICT IN THEIR HOME. AND THEY'RE FEELING STUCK. THEY'RE FEELING LIKE THEY DON'T HAVE AN OUTLOOK. AND MANY OF THESE YOUNG PEOPLE LIKE WAS SAID EARLIER ARE STRUGGLING WITH HOPE. AND THAT'S REALLY WHAT KEEPS ME UP AT NIGHT IS THAT SENSE OF DREAD AND HOPELESSNESS WHICH IS IMPORTANT FOR US AS ADULTS TO HELP COUNTER BY SHARING HOPE AND SPREADING HOPE WHEREVER WE CAN.

Steve says SHERI, CAN I JUST FOLLOW UP WITH YOU BECAUSE YOU MENTIONED HOPE AS WELL. IS THE LOSS OF HOPE RELATED TO THEY THINK THIS PANDEMIC WILL NEVER END? OR WHAT IS IT?

Sheri says I THINK IT'S PROBABLY QUITE MULTIFACETED. I THINK IT IS THE IDEA THAT IT ISN'T GOING TO END. THE END DOESN'T SEEM TO BE IN SIGHT ANYTIME SOON. AND I THINK IT'S JUST WHAT OTHERS HAVE MENTIONED AROUND THE LOSS OF THEIR PEER GROUP, THEIR SOCIAL SUPPORTS, THEIR EXTRACURRICULARS AND I'M STILL HEARING FROM MANY THAT THE EXPECTATIONS AREN'T CHANGING. THEY'RE STILL EXPECTED TO DO WELL AT SCHOOL, GET THEIR As, ATTEND CLASS. AND I THINK THERE'S A REAL IMBALANCE BETWEEN WHAT THEY'RE GOING THROUGH AND HOW THEY'RE FUNCTIONING AND WHAT'S BEING EXPECTED.

Steve says WELL, WE SHOULD... WELL, I SHOULD ASK, I SHOULDN'T ASSUME. SHOULD WE NOT STILL EXPECT KIDS TO GET GOOD MARKS?

Sheri says I THINK WE CAN HOPE THAT THEY WILL. AND I THINK WHEN THE MOMENT'S RIGHT WE CAN EXPECT THEM TO. YET I THINK IT JUST FEEDS INTO THAT PRESSURE THAT I WAS SPEAKING ABOUT A FEW MINUTES AGO. MANY OF THE KIDS I WORK WITH AND THAT I'M HEARING ABOUT FROM COLLEAGUES, THEY'RE HAPPY IF THEY GET OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING AND EAT BREAKFAST. AT THIS POINT, ESPECIALLY IN THE LATE... THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR, THEY'RE COMPLETELY EXHAUSTED. THEY HAVE NO ENLIVENMENT, NO FULFILMENT, THERE IS NO SPONTANEITY IN THEIR DAY. THEY ARE DREADING EVERY MINUTE OF THEIR DAY. I DO THINK WE HAVE TO LISTEN TO THEM AND DIG INTO THEIR EXPERIENCE AND WHAT THEY'RE GOING THROUGH. AND I DO THINK THE EXPECTATIONS HAVE TO SETTLE DOWN A LITTLE. I THINK WE HAVE TO TAKE OUR FOOT OFF THE GAS PEDAL.

Steve says KATHY, I DON'T KNOW HOW TO ASK THIS WELL SO I'M JUST GOING TO ASK IT. AND IT WILL BE INELEGANTLY ASKED, BUT YOU WILL GET THE DRIFT OF WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT HERE. OF COURSE THE KIDS THAT THE THREE OF YOU ARE DEALING WITH ARE HAVING AMONG THE TOUGHEST TIMES IN THE COUNTRY. DO YOU THINK THEY'RE REFLECTIVE OF THE ENTIRE, SAY, UNDER 18 POPULATION RIGHT NOW?

The caption changes to "For help: 1-800-668-6868 or kidshelpphone.ca."

Katherine says THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION. AND WE'RE SEEING KIDS IN EVERY PROVINCE AND TERRITORY. SO I DO AGREE THAT THE SENSE OF HOPELESSNESS, ISOLATION, FEAR. THERE'S A LOT OF THAT WE'RE HEARING FROM KIDS ACROSS CANADA RIGHT NOW. NOT ONLY FOR THEIR OWN HEALTH BUT FOR THEIR FAMILY'S WELL-BEING. I ALSO AGREE THAT THE ISOLATION IS PROVING DIFFERENT DYNAMICS WITHIN THE HOME AND THE EXPECTATION DAY-TO-DAY IS REALLY STRESSING OUR KIDS OUT. WE HEAR IT EVERY SINGLE DAY ON THE PLATFORM. SO IN ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION, THIS IS A NATIONAL CRISIS THAT WE'RE SEEING. I ALSO WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE REMEMBER THAT WHAT WE'RE GOING THROUGH RIGHT NOW. AND I DO SEE A LOT OF HOPE ACTUALLY FROM THE YOUNG PEOPLE THAT REACH OUT. AND THE HOPE I SEE IS THAT THEY ARE REACHING OUT, THAT THEY ARE LEARNING AND THEY CONTINUE TO DO SO. THAT IS A REALLY GOOD RESILIENCY COPING MECHANISM THAT WE'RE SEEING AT KIDS HELP PHONE. WHAT WE WORRY ABOUT IS THE TRAUMA THAT IS COMING FROM THIS PAST YEAR. AND LET'S REMEMBER IT'S NOT JUST COVID. I MEAN IT SOUNDS WEIRD TO TALK ABOUT "JUST COVID" BECAUSE IT'S BEEN PRETTY DRAMATIC. BUT IN "THERE IS A HOUSE HERE." HAVE BEEN THE SHOOTINGS IN NOVA SCOTIA. THERE'S BEEN HUGE UNREST AROUND SOCIAL INJUSTICE. AND WE SAW MAJOR SPIKES WITH THE GEORGE FLOYD INCIDENT AND OTHER ISSUES AROUND SOCIAL JUSTICE. SO I'M INCREDIBLY WORRIED ABOUT THIS YEAR, NEXT YEAR, THE YEAR OF A. AND IF WE FORGET THIS TRAUMA AS A COUNTRY AND GOVERNMENT, WE WILL SUFFER.

Steve says IT IS A LOT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TO DEAL WITH. WE'VE GOT THE HEALTH CARE CRISIS, AN ECONOMIC CRISIS FOR MANY FAMILIES WHO HAVE EITHER LOST JOBS OR SEEN THEIR LIVES TURNED UPSIDE DOWN AND THEN THE SOCIAL JUSTICE RECKONING THAT'S HAPPENING. THAT'S A TRIPLE WHAMMY FOR A LOT OF FAMILIES TO DEAL WITH ALL AT THE SAME TIME. JAVEED, WE KNOW THE WAIT LIST FOR MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES BEFORE THE PANDEMIC HIT WAS ALREADY PLENTY HIGH. I GUESS DOUBLING FUNDING WOULD SOLVE A LOT OF PROBLEMS BUT ANYTHING BEYOND THAT THAT YOU COULD RECOMMEND THAT WOULD BRING MORE CAPACITY ONLINE?

Javeed says WELL, I THINK YOU SAID THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. WE'VE GOT PERSISTENTLY AND INTENTIONALLY UNDER FUNDED SYSTEMS WHICH CONTINUE TO BE UNDER FUNDED DESPITE SUCCESSIVE GOVERNMENTS, DESPITE ATTENTION TO THE ISSUE. SO WE NEED TO DO THAT. WE ALSO NEED TO RECOGNIZE THAT THERE'S A DISTINCTION BETWEEN PEOPLE WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH A NORMAL, EMOTIONAL RESPONSE TO A STRESSOR THAT ARE SEEKING HELP AND SUPPORT. AND PEOPLE WHO HAVE MORE OF THAT FUNCTIONAL DEBILITATION WE NEED A HIGHER LEVEL OF TREATMENT. WE NEED EVIDENCE-BASED HEALTH PROFESSIONALS WHO ARE TRAINED TO SUPPORT THEM. WHAT GOES HAND IN HAND WITH FUNDING IS PEOPLE. WE'VE GOT A MENTAL HEALTH WORKFORCE IN ONTARIO THAT'S EXTREMELY STRETCHED. THERE'S ONLY ABOUT 100 COLLEGE REGISTERED CHILD PSYCHOLOGISTS IN THE ENTIRE PROVINCE. IT'S THE SAME GROUP OF US THAT HAVE BEEN STRETCHED MORE AND MOREOVER THE PAST DECADE. AND I'M REALLY CONCERNED THAT THERE'S A LACK OF HEALTH HUMAN RESOURCE PLANNING WHICH IS HOLDING THINGS BACK.

Steve says IN WHICH CASE, LET ME GET YOUR TAKE ON THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT MADE JUST THIS WEEK 80 MILLION dollars FOR MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM, 1,000 MORE MENTAL HEALTH WORKERS OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF YEARS. HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE THAT?

Javeed says I THINK IT'S PROMISING. I WON'T SAY THAT IT'S A BAD THING. BUT IT'S SIMPLY NOT ENOUGH. SCHOOL MENTAL HEALTH WORKERS DON'T TYPICALLY PROVIDE TREATMENT. THEY CAN PROVIDE SUPPORT. THEY CAN PROVIDE COUNSELLING. BUT WE SEE MOST OF THE CASES WHERE THERE'S SIGNIFICANT CLINICAL PRESENTATIONS PRESENTING TO MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS WHO WILL CONTINUE TO HAVE WAITING LISTS. I DON'T THINK THAT THAT MONEY IS GOING TO MAKE A DENT IN THE SORT OF ATROCIOUS FACT THAT SOME YOUNG PEOPLE ARE WAITING 12 TO 24 MONTHS FOR EVIDENCE-BASED TREATMENT. SO, YOU KNOW, IT'S ENCOURAGING THAT THEY'RE SPENDING THAT MONEY. BUT I WOULD WISH THAT GOVERNMENTS WOULD DO LESS POLITICALLY POPULAR SPRINKLING OF FUNDS AND DO MORE SUSTAINABLE ANNUAL OPERATIONAL INVESTMENT IN CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH.

Steve says LET ME DO ONE MORE FOLLOW UP WITH YOU. BECAUSE I SUSPECT SOME PEOPLE WATCHING YOU ARE NOT GOING TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SORT OF POLITICALLY NICE SPRINKLING OF FUNDS VERSUS WHAT IT IS YOU'RE ACTUALLY LOOKING FOR THAT'S MEANINGFUL. CAN YOU GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE OF THE FORMER AND THE LATTER?

Javeed says ABSOLUTELY. THE POLITICALLY CONVENIENT THING TO DO IS TO SPRINKLE FUNDS, YOU KNOW, INTO A UNIT HERE OR A PROGRAM HERE OR SECTOR THERE. TO HAVE A PHOTO OP AND TO ISSUE A PRESS RELEASE. THAT'S GREAT. BUT WHAT THAT DOESN'T ADDRESS IS THE FACT THAT PEOPLE ACROSS ONTARIO ARE WAITING UP TO 12 TO 24 MONTHS FOR EVIDENCE-BASED CARE. AND SUSTAINABLE FUNDING MEANING SUSTAINABLE DOLLARS, THE COMMUNITY, CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH INDUSTRIES TO INVEST IN HUMAN RESOURCES TO PAY SALARIES FOR PEOPLE TO BE ABLE TO PROVIDE THE TREATMENT.

Steve says NOW, KATHY, DID I SEE RIGHT OR WAS IT MY IMAGINATION THAT YOU DID AN ANNOUNCEMENT WITH A COUPLE OF CABINET MINISTERS THIS PAST WEEK?

Katherine says YES, YOU DID SEE THAT RIGHT. KIDS HELP PHONE HAS RECEIVED GOOD FUNDING FROM ONTARIO THIS YEAR TO SUPPORT THE EXPONENTIAL GROWTH THAT WE HAVE SEEN. I WILL AGREE THAT THE ECOSYSTEM ITSELF CANNOT BE FUNDED PIECE MEAL. SO IT'S FANTASTIC THAT KIDS CAN REACH KIDS HELP PHONE 24-7 AND YOUNG PERSONS WITH SUICIDE IDEATION IT'S 40 SECONDS BEFORE WE GET TO THEM. BUT THAT IS A SINLGE SESSION IN A MOMENT IN TIME AND THAT IS OUR JOB AT KIDS HELP PHONE AS PART OF THE ECOSYSTEM. FOR SOME YOUNG PERSON TO WAIT 12 TO 14 MONTHS FOR EVIDENCE-BASED CARE IS TOO LONG. AND KIDS HELP PHONE CANNOT SUSTAIN THAT PERSON FOR 12 TO 14 MONTHS WHILE THEY WAIT.

Steve says KATHY, I DON'T KNOW IF THIS IS KNOWABLE. BUT DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MANY KIDS YOU'VE TALKED DOWN OFF THE LEDGE SO TO SPEAK?

Katherine says SO ABOUT 20 percent OF THE WORK WE DO EVERY SINGLE DAY IS AROUND SUICIDE IDEATION, SELF HARM, IN SIGNIFICANT WAYS. THAT'S EVERY SINGLE DAY. AND EVERY SINGLE DAY WE DO BETWEEN 10 TO 15 ACTIVE INTERVENTIONS WHERE THERE IS AN INTENT, A PLAN. AND WE DO THAT EVERY SINGLE DAY. SO IN 2020, WE CONDUCTED MORE THAN 43, ALMOST 4300 AVERAGE CASES. THAT'S IN ADDITION TO THE 20 percent BUILDING SAFETY PLANS, SETTING THEM THROUGH. IT IS A CRISIS IN THIS COUNTRY. AND DAIRY ALSO THINK ABOUT INDIGENOUS YOUTH AND BLACK YOUTH ARE REALLY, REALLY SUFFERING THROUGH THIS PANDEMIC.

Steve says I WANT TO MAKE SURE I HEARD YOU RIGHT THERE. YOU SAVED MORE THAN 4,000 KIDS FROM KILLING THEMSELVES LAST YEAR.

Katherine says CORRECT. THAT IS CORRECT.

Steve says OKAY. AND THE MONEY YOU JUST GOT FROM QUEEN'S PARK THIS WEEK, HOW FAR WILL THAT GO TO HELPING YOU FULFIL YOUR MISSION?

Katherine says SO I AM GRATEFUL FOR ANY FUNDING. IT WILL HELP US TO PAY SOME SALARIES, MAKE SURE SERVICE IS 24-7. WE RELY ON THAT FUNDING. WE CANNOT OPERATE WITHOUT THAT. THANK GOODNESS WE GOT THAT FUNDING.

Steve says SHERI, LET ME ASK YOU IS THERE ANY PARTICULAR TOOL OR TECHNIQUE THAT YOU APPLY WHEN YOU ARE DEALING WITH A YOUNG PERSON CHALLENGED WITH ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION?

Sheri says THAT'S A BIG QUESTION THAT COULD TAKE ALL WEEK TO ANSWER BUT I WILL TRY TO JUST SPILL IT DOWN. DO I WORK WITH MODALITY COMMITMENT THERAPY OR ACT. AND RATHER THAN SEEING IT AS A SKILL SET, YOU KNOW, HERE'S A HAMMER, I'LL TEACH YOU HOW TO USE IT, IT'S REALLY ABOUT TEACHING PEOPLE HOW TO HAVE THEIR THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS BECAUSE I THINK THERE IS A LOT OF PRESSURE IN THE WORLD THAT IF YOU DON'T LIKE YOUR THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS YOU NEED TO FIX THEM, GET RID OF THEM OR SHUT THEM DOWN AND YOU CAN BE HAPPY. AND HUMANS ARE NOT HAPPY ALL THE TIME. SO THE EMPHASIS IS REALLY ON HOW DO YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF, YOUR THOUGHTS, YOUR MEMORIES, HOW DO YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT RELATIONSHIP WITH THAT AND IT'S A LIFE LONG PRACTICE AND LIFELONG WAY OF BEING. THE EMPHASIS THEN BECOMES WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE? WHO'S THE PERSON THAT MATTERS TO YOU? AND WHO AND WHAT MATTERS TO YOU IN YOUR WORLD AND WORKING WITH PEOPLE TO HELP THEM REALLY GO IN THAT DIRECTION. WHICH, WITH YOUNG ADOLESCENTS AND YOUNG ADULTS, IS REALLY WONDERFUL BECAUSE THEY'RE RIGHT AT THE AGE WHERE THEY'RE LOOKING AT IDENTITY AND MEANING IN LIFE AND IT'S LESS ABOUT THE OUTCOME AND MORE ABOUT THE JOURNEY. SO I FIND IT REALLY HELPFUL TO WORK WITH KIDS. TEENS, ADULTS AND PARENTS AROUND BEING ABLE TO HAVE THOSE FEELINGS AND NOT TRY TO FIX THEM AND GET RID OF THEM.

Steve says DO YOU HAVE A BALLPARK FIGURE IN TERMS OF HOW MANY KIDS YOU MIGHT HELP IN THE COURSE OF YOUR THROUGH THREE THE WORK?

Sheri says NOT AS MANY AS I WOULD LIKE. I DO A LOT OF INDIVIDUAL THERAPY. I THINK ABOUT 30 percent ARE TEENS. WE DO A LOT MORE ONLINE GROUPS AND WE'RE TRYING TO GET WORKSHOPS IN PLACE THAT COULD BE OFFERED CANADA WIDE SO YOU CAN REACH PEOPLE WHO DON'T HAVE A LOT OF MONEY, WHO CAN'T COME TO THERAPY EVERY WEEK SO WE CAN DO IT MORE AS A SKILLS-BASED TEACHING. WE'RE WORKING ON T BUT CERTAINLY NOT AS MUCH AS I WOULD LIKE. AND PEOPLE AREN'T LEAVING THERAPY.

Steve says RIGHT...

Sheri says THERE'S A REAL BACKLOG NOW.

Steve says HOW MUCH OF THE WORK THAT YOU DO INVOLVES ACTUALLY CONVINCING PARENTS IN THE FIRST PLACE THAT CHILDREN NEED YOUR HELP?

Sheri says FOR ME NOT MUCH. BECAUSE THEY'RE REACHING OUT TO ME. SO IT'S KIND OF A BUILT IN. I THINK THE HARDER PART IS FOR ME TO VINCE APP CONVINCE PARENTS THAT THEY MIGHT NEED SOME HELP. OFTEN WHEN THERE'S A HIGHLY ANXIOUS, DEPRESSED OR JUST A TEEN WHO'S STRUGGLING, PARENTS ARE PROBABLY STRUGGLING, TOO. AND IT'S REALLY HARD TO WATCH YOUR CHILD SUFFER. MORE OFTEN THAN NOT I'M BRINGING PARENTS TO PLACES AND CONNECTING THEM WITH THERAPISTS THAT CAN HELP THEM SO THEY CAN SUPPORT THEIR TEEN.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says KATHY DO YOU HAVE A BALLPARK AS TO HOW MANY PEOPLE YOU HAVE WORKING UNDER YOUR ROOF HELPING PEOPLE OUT?

Katherine says THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION. AT KIDS HELP PHONE WE HAVE ABOUT 192 CLINICIANS ON OUR PHONE-IN CHAT. AND THOSE ARE PROFESSIONAL COUNSELORS FOR SINGLE SESSION COUNSELLING. WE ALSO HAVE AN INCREDIBLE TECHNOLOGY IN OUR TEXTING PLATFORM WHICH ENABLES US TO TRAIN AND SUPPORT CRISIS RESPONDERS. WE HAVE ABOUT 4,000 VOLUNTEERS THAT SUPPORT KIDS THROUGH TEXTING. AND THAT IS ON A.I. MACHINE TECHNOLOGY WITH PROFESSIONAL COUNSELLING AND AN ADDITIONAL 60 TO 70 PEOPLE, PROFESSIONAL COUNSELORS. SO FOR TRIAGING. AND WE TRIAGE BASED ON ACTIVITY NOT JUST ON ACCESS. SO THE TRIAGE WITH SUICIDE I IDEATION IS SOMETHING THAT'S ADDRESSED...

Steve says KATHY I ALWAYS LIKE TO ASK THE HELPERS BECAUSE THE HELPERS NEED HELP, TOO, FROM TIME TO TIME AND PARTICULARLY WHEN THEY'RE, YOU KNOW, ALL DAY LONG DEALING WITH SOME OF THE UNHAPPIEST AND MOST ANXIOUS PEOPLE IN THE COUNTRY. HOW DO YOU ENSURE THAT YOUR HELPERS GET HELP?

Katherine says I THANK YOU FOR THAT QUESTION. BECAUSE OUR HELPERS, OUR COUNSELORS, THEY ARE THE VIRTUAL FRONT LINES. SOMETIMES THEY'RE THE ONLY PERSON WHO TALKS TO A YOUNG PERSON ABOUT WHATEVER THEIR ISSUES ARE. SO OUR COUNSELORS, THEY'RE ALL REMOTE NOW. THEY USED TO BE IN COUNSELLING CENTRE WHERE THEY HAD EACH OTHER AND DEBRIEFING MOMENTS AND COUNSELLING MANAGERS TO COUNSEL THEM. THEY'RE IN THEIR BEDROOM SOMETIMES. THE BARRIERS ARE JUST SO BLURRED RIGHT NOW WITH THEM. SO WE DO A TON OF SELF-CARE, MAKE SURE THAT WE REDUCE THE NUMBER OF CALLS. IN ANY GIVEN DAY. WE ALSO TRY TO WORK WITH THEM AS WELL WHICH WE'RE PROUD OF. AND WE JUST WANT TO SUPPORT THEM AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

Steve says JAVEED I HAVE ASKED THIS QUESTION OF NUMEROUS DOCTORS AND NURSES SO I WILL ASK YOU AS WELL: WHAT CONSTITUTE AS GOOD DAY IN YOUR LIFE? I COULD IMAGINE IF YOU ARE A DOCTOR ATTENDING TO PEOPLE WHO ARE DYING OR A NURSE ATTENDING TO PEOPLE DYING IN YOUR ICU ALL THE TIME WITH COVID-19 THAT'S A HARD THING TO DEAL WITH DAY IN AND DAY OUT SO WHAT CONSTITUTES A GOOD DAY FOR YOU RIGHT NOW?

Javeed says IT'S A TRICKY QUESTION FOR ME RIGHT NOW. BECAUSE I CAN TELL YOU THAT THE LEVEL OF GRIEF, THE LEVEL OF EMOTIONAL ENERGY THAT I WOULD SAY I AND MANY HEALTH CARE WORKERS HAVE INVESTED THIS YEAR IS UNPRECEDENTED. THEN YOU ADD ON TO THAT THE ISOLATION OF NOT HAVING A PEER GROUP THAT CAN BE A SUPPORT I HAVE TALKED TO MANY WHO HAVE STRUGGLED. BUT YOUR QUESTION IS WHAT'S A GOOD DAY. I COULD SAY THAT I TRY TO THINK OF EVERY DAY AS A GOOD DAY. I SEE IT AS A GIFT TO BE ABLE TO WORK WITH YOUNG PEOPLE WHO CONTINUE TO INSPIRE ME EVERY DAY I WORK WITH THEM. A GOOD DAY FOR ME IN THE LAST TWO WEEKS WAS A YOUNG PERSON WHOSE LIFE GOAL WAS TO BUY A HOUSE TELLING ME THAT THEY WERE APPROVED FOR A MORTGAGE. OR A YOUNG PERSON WHO STRUGGLED MANY MONTHS AGO IS FINDING THEIR THRIVING IN PART-TIME EMPLOYMENT AND SET GOALS ON THINGS THEY SEE AS ACHIEVABLE. SO IT'S REALLY TO ME THE ENERGY, THE ENTHUSIASM, AND THE LOVE THAT YOUNG PEOPLE BRING THAT MAKES IT A GOOD DAY FOR ME.

Steve says AND WHAT'S THE RATIO BETWEEN GOOD DAYS AND BAD DAYS?

Javeed says WELL, YOU KNOW, YOU'RE CHALLENGING MY FRAMING THERE, STEVE. SO I WOULD SAY 100 percent GOOD DAYS. HOWEVER, IT'S BEEN REALLY TOUGH. I THINK WHEN WE'RE IN LOCK DOWN, ADULTS STRUGGLE, TOO. AND I CAN TELL YOU I HAVE YOUNG ONES AT HOME. I HAVE YOUNG ONES WHO HAVE THEIR NEEDS. SO IF THEIR INTERNET ISN'T WORKING IN THE MIDDLE OF A SCIENCE TEST AND I'M FULLY PRESENT OR TRYING TO BE FULLY PRESENT FOR A YOUNG PERSON I'M TRYING TO SUPPORT THAT CAN BE TRICKY. THE OTHER CHALLENGE I FIND FOR MANY PEOPLE IS THAT BECAUSE THERE'S ONLY SO MANY OF US AND THE DEMANDS ARE GOING UP, THERE IS A KIND OF MORAL DISTRESS THAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU ARE AN INTAKE WORKER, FOR EXAMPLE, AND YOU HAVE TO TELL A PARENT WHO'S GOT A CHILD WHO NEEDS HELP THAT THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO WAIT, AND THAT TAKES A TOLL. AND THIS YEAR IT FEELS AS THOUGH THAT TOLL JUST KEEPS ACCUMULATING AND ACCUMULATING OVER THE YEAR. AND I'M REALLY CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT THAT EXPERIENCE IS GOING TO BE LIKE IN THE WAKE OF ALL THIS FOR THE PEOPLE WHO ARE WORKING DAY-TO-DAY IN MENTAL HEALTH.

Steve says IN WHICH CASE LET ME ASK YOU THE SAME QUESTION WHO HELPS KATHY? WHO HELPLESS THE HELPERS?

Javeed says I THINK WE HAVE LEARNED TO HELP OURSELVES BUT WE'RE REALLY BAD AT THAT. PEOPLE WHO WORK IN MENTAL HEALTH ALSO STRUGGLE WITH, YOU KNOW, STIGMA AROUND ASKING FOR HELP. EVEN THOUGH WE CULTIVATE HOPE IN OTHERS, WE SOMETIMES DON'T PRACTICE THE BEST CARE FOR OURSELVES. SO IN TERMS OF THE HEALTH OF THE HELPERS, I THINK WE NEED PEOPLE WHO MIGHT BE EMPLOYERS TO BE SUPPORTIVE LIKE KIDS HELP PHONE, FOR EXAMPLE. BUT WE WHAT WE ALSO NEED IS A GOVERNMENT THAT RECOGNIZES THE WORK THAT WE DO AND HONOURS THE WORK THAT WE DO, AND INVESTS IN IT. THAT LISTENS TO WHAT HEALTH CARE WORKERS ARE SAYING AND WHAT YOUNG PEOPLE ARE SAYING AND REALLY PROMOTES A NARRATIVE THAT SHOWS WE CAN MOVE FORWARD IN A WAY THAT MEETS THAT NEED.

Steve says OKAY. YOU'RE GOING TO FORGIVE ME THIS EXTRA, EXTRA, EXTRA FOLLOW UP NOW BECAUSE YOU JUST RAISED SOMETHING I CAN'T LET GO. YOU SAID WE NEED A GOVERNMENT THAT... DO WE HAVE THAT RIGHT NOW?

Javeed says FRANKLY, NO. FRANKLY NO, WE DON'T. I'M GOING TO SAY THIS VERY CANDIDLY. IT'S GREAT TO SPRINKLE MONEY HERE OR THERE. BUT THIS GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN IN POWER FOR SEVERAL YEARS. THEY HAVE NOT YET PROVIDED A SUSTAINED INVESTMENT IN CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH. WE KNOW THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT IS CLEAR. A DOLLAR INVESTED IN EARLY INTERVENTION WILL SAVE MANY DOLLARS DOWN THE LINE. AND WHAT WE'VE SEEN THUS FAR FROM THIS GOVERNMENT IS SPRINKLING OF FUNDS HERE AND THERE. NO SUSTAINED INVESTMENTS. EVERY YEAR FOR THE BUDGET CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH AGENCIES MAKE IT CLEAR THAT 150 MILLION dollars A YEAR CAN REDUCE WAIT LISTS WITHIN 30 DAYS. AND THAT'S NOT RECOMMENDATIONS THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS ACTED UPON. AND THEY'VE SIMPLY NOT BEEN LISTENING. THOSE OF US IN THE SYSTEM AND THE YOUNG PEOPLE AND THE CAREGIVERS THAT WE SERVE, WE'VE BEEN SHOUTING AT THE TOP OF OUR LUNGS FOR YEARS AND WE HAVEN'T SEEN THAT SUSTAINED INVESTMENT.

Steve says TO BE CLEAR YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO.

Javeed says YES, I WOULD SAY THE GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO HAS NOT BEEN LISTENING SUCCESSFULLY TO THE NEEDS OF CHILDREN STRUGGLING WITH MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES.

Steve says OKAY. IN OUR REMAINING MOMENTS HERE I DO WANT TO COME BACK TO THE ISSUE OF HOPE. AND SHERI, LET ME RAISE THAT WITH YOU. YESTERDAY HEALTH CANADA DID ANNOUNCE THAT THEY'RE GOING TO RECOMMEND THE PFIZER VACCINE FOR KIDS AS YOUNG AS 12. AND I WONDER WHETHER YOU THINK THAT MIGHT CHANGE THE EQUATION WHEN IT COMES TO HOPE FOR PEOPLE OF THAT AGE.

Sheri says I HOPE SO. I THINK IT'S GOING TO DEPEND. AND THAT'S MY FAVOURITE ANSWER FOR MANY THINGS ON WHEN IT HAPPENS. HOPEFULLY THE OPTICS WON'T BE SO CHAOTIC. YOU KNOW, I THINK GETTING THE VACCINE OUT IS A WHOLE OTHER ISSUE. BUT I DO HOPE THAT ONCE THE VACCINE IS OUT THAT IS GOING TO GIVE THEM SOME DEGREE OF HOPE. BUT I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF OTHER ISSUES EVEN WEARING MASKS AND WHO'S WEARING THEM, WHO'S NOT. A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE TELLING ME THEY DON'T FEEL SAFE BECAUSE THEY DON'T KNOW WHO THEY'RE WALKING PAST. THEY DON'T WEAR MASKS AND WE DON'T KNOW EVERYBODY'S STORY WHEN WE'RE WALKING PAST SOMEBODY ON THE STREET STANDING IN LINE WITH THEM. KIDS ARE FEELING OSTRACIZED IF THEIR FRIENDS AREN'T FOLLOWING PRECAUTIONS AND THEY HAVE TO. I THINK IT MAY HELP BUT I'M NOT SURE OF ALL THE OTHER STUFF GOING ON SYSTEMICALLY. FOR THEIR ENTIRE WORLD TO KEEP THEM SAFE.

Steve says SURE. HOW ABOUT SOME ADVICE FOR PARENTS RIGHT NOW. WE HEARD YOU SAY THAT MAYBE NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BE GETTING KIDS THE STRAIGHT As IN ALL THEIR CLASSES. OKAY, A LITTLE BIT MORE ADVICE FOR PARENTS AS THEY NAVIGATE THE NEXT FEW MONTHS.

Sheri says I THINK FOR PARENTS AND TEENS REALLY TAKE YOUR FEET OFF THE GAS PEDAL. SLOW IT DOWN. MAKE THINGS MORE REASONABLE AND TALK TO YOUR TEENS. THEY DON'T HAVE THEIR FRIENDS AND THEIR TEACHERS AND ANYONE AT SCHOOL OR SPORTS TO JUST SPONTANEOUSLY TALK TO. AND NEVER UNDER ESTIMATE HOW IMPORTANT YOU ARE TO THEIR CHILD. TALK TO THEM BUT LISTEN TO THEM. GET CURIOUS ABOUT THEM BEYOND JUST THEIR ROLE AS A STUDENT BECAUSE THEY'RE SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. AND DON'T TRY TO FIX IT. DON'T TRY TO REASSURE THEM. AT LEAST NOT RIGHT AWAY. DON'T TRY TO COMPARE IT TO ANYTHING ELSE. JUST LISTEN AND TRY TO GET INTO THE TOUGH FEELINGS WITH THEM. JUST GIVE THEM A LOT OF EMPATHY AND FOR PARENTS, TOO. A LOT OF COMPASSION AND KINDNESS GOES A LONG WAY. THIS IS HARD.

Steve says KATHY, LAST MINUTE TO YOU. A LOT OF KIDS ARE NOT COMMUNICATIVE. PARTICULARLY TO THEIR PARENTS. HOW SHOULD PARENTS HANDLE THAT?

Katherine says IT'S A GREAT QUESTION. AND HERE'S THE REALITY OF SURVIVOR OF TEEN YEARS AND ADULTS LIKE MYSELF. IT DOESN'T WONDER MATTER HOW WONDERFUL YOU ARE AS A PARENT, KIDS AREN'T GOING TO TELL YOU EVERYTHING. THERE ARE THINGS JUST AREN'T GOING TO TELL YOU AND I THINK THAT'S OKAY. AND WHAT WE'VE SEEN AT KIDS HELP PHONE IS ABOUT 56 percent OF THE KIDS THAT... 56 percent TELL US SOMETHING THEY WOULD NOT HAVE TOLD SOMEBODY ELSE. SO I THINK JUST THEY'LL ASK ABOUT THE FACT THAT KIDS MAY NOT TELL YOU EVERYTHING. MAKE SURE THAT THEY HAVE AVENUES TO TELL SOMEBODY SOMETHING. BUT IF I COULD ALSO PUT A BIG BANNER OF HOPE OUT THERE FOR US ALL. AND IF WE LOOK TO YOUNG PEOPLE FOR THAT HOPE, THERE HAS BEEN AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF RESILIENCE AMONG OUR KIDS. AND WE SEE THAT EVERY DAY. WE TALKED EARLIER ABOUT 4,200 ACTIVE SUICIDE IDEATION AND THAT HORRIFIC STATISTIC. THERE IS STILL A BEACON OF HOPE AND WE SHOULD FOLLOW THAT AND RISE TO THE BATTLE.

The caption changes to "Producer: Carla Lucchetta, @carrletta."

Steve says AMEN TO THAT. KATHERINE HAY FROM KIDS HELP PHONE. Dr. JAVEED SUKHERA, SHERI TURRELL, THANKS SO MUCH FOR SHARING SO MUCH WISDOM WITH US AND OUR LISTENERS TONIGHT ON TVO. TAKE GOOD CARE, EVERYONE.

All the guests say THANK YOU.

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