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MyHEARTSMAP survey will determine your child's mental health

Youth mental health check

The full impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having and will have on the mental health of teenagers and children will take some time to determine.

BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute is trying to collect as much information as possible to help young people through this unprecedented time and beyond, and this is where the public comes in.

Dr. Quynh Doan, the clinical research director at the research institute, is asking children and parents in the Interior to participate in the MyHEARTSMAP study. The findings will help Dr. Doan and her team determine the mental effects the COVID-19 pandemic is having on minors and which resources are vital to help those who need support.

The study is for children between the ages of 10 and 17, and for parents of children between six and 17.

“If we measure differences in the type of resource needs, that should guide allocation of these mental health resources—and not just in amount, but in type,” Dr. Doan says.

The study is conducted online and by phone. Participants register, go through consent with a research assistant, fill out the MyHEARTSMAP survey after enrolment and then do so again in three months.

If it’s determined that a young person taking the survey needs immediate mental help, a study nurse will contact them.

The survey rates the youth’s social and psychological status in 10 areas:
• home life
• education and activities
• alcohol and drugs
• relationships and bullying
• thoughts and anxiety
• safety
• sexual health
• mood
• abuse
• professionals and resources for mental health

Dr. Doan says there are a variety of services that youngsters could access, including social support, drug and alcohol counselling, family counselling or general counselling. She says in addition to the uncertainty related to the pandemic, most stresses and conflicts are related to perceived challenges with, or experienced by, peers and family. Some problems can be addressed by something as simple as having a conversation at home.

“For too long, we’ve dichotomized the mind and body, when in fact they work together,” Dr. Doan says. “If the body is sick, it will affect your mind. If your mind is challenged, it will express itself through physical symptoms. Sometimes people are surprised when we suggest treatment approaches involving both mind and body interventions, but you need to address both to achieve good health.”

Dr. Doan wants all children and parents to take part in the survey, even if they believe they have not been affected mentally by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The reality is you don’t know there’s anything wrong until you check,” she says. “Parents might assume there’s nothing wrong because their child appears to be going about their business in their usual way, when children and youth could be struggling with a variety of issues without the appropriate help.”

To participate in the MyHEARTSMAP study, visit myheartsmap-pandemic.bcchr.ca to register. Any questions can be emailed to [email protected].

This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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