Offord Centre for Child Studies

May 11, 2006 14:30 ET

Offord Centre Launches Website to Improve Kids' Mental Health

Child development experts launch Canada's first web site to share information on what works and what doesn't to improve children's mental health Attention: Assignment Editor, Education Editor, Health/Medical Editor, Lifestyle Editor, News Editor CALGARY, ALBERTA--(CCNMatthews - May 11, 2006) - Plain language summaries will give parents, others access to research from around the world

The Offord Centre for Child Studies announced today a major new initiative in children's mental health - the creation of a national web site to provide the latest and best information on how to identify, prevent and treat mental health problems in children and youth.

The web site - - is part of a new Centre of Knowledge on Healthy Child Development that will put information based on the best science available into the hands of parents, teachers and others in the community who can use it to improve outcomes for children. Future plans include delivering this information in customized packages to doctor's offices, classrooms, libraries and other locations that serve young people and their parents.

One in five children in North America today suffers from a mental health problem. Five in six of those who need help never get it. "The problem is not that we don't know what works or what doesn't work," said Peter Szatmari, Director of the Offord Centre. "The problem is that we are not getting that information out of the scientific journals and into the hands of the people who need to know it and who can apply it immediately to try and solve some of these problems."

Based in Hamilton, Ontario, where it is affiliated with McMaster Children's Hospital and McMaster University, the Offord Centre is internationally recognized for its research in the field of children's mental health. It is unique in Canada for its blend of scientific research, public education and knowledge transfer and training.

Susan Hess, President of Parents for Children's Mental Health, an advocacy group, told members of the Calgary mental health community who attended the launch that she spent years trying to find out what was wrong with her daughter. "I felt very angry, very alone, and frustrated at not being able to find information that could help my daughter. Having the Offord Centre for Child Studies establish this web site gives me great confidence that we are moving forward in the way that we should to help families and young people."

The web site will publish plain language summaries of current and relevant research from around the world as it relates to the developmental health and well-being of children and youth. Parents and others will be able to find information on a host of common, and not-so-common childhood problems, including anger, aggression and bullying, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression.

"The information on this web site will go a long way toward closing the gap between what we know and what we practice in the field of child and youth mental health and its important linkages to brain development in the early childhood years," said Dr. Margaret Clarke, Chief of Developmental Paediatrics for the Calgary Health Region and a professor of Paediatrics and Psychiatry at the University of Calgary, where she was recently appointed the Fraser Mustard Chair in Child Development.

John McLellan, an assistant professor in the Departments of Community Health Sciences, Psychiatry, and Paediatrics at the University of Calgary, and a specialist in the study of high-risk children and youth, said the Offord Centre's reputation as a leader in the field of early child development will ensure that the information on its web site is reliable and trustworthy.

"They have pulled together leading experts who are committed to identifying evidence-based strategies for improving the lives of children and youth at risk. I will definitely be using this web site, and I hope other professionals will, too, as we work toward building better interventions and services for children and youth in Canada and beyond."

/For further information: Sherry Cecil
Offord Centre for Child Studies
Tel: 905-521-2100, ext. 74946

Contact Information

  • Sherry Cecil, Communications Consultant
    Primary Phone: 905-521-2100 ext. 74946
    Secondary Phone: 905-515-1002