Kinark Child and Family Services

Kinark Child and Family Services

April 29, 2009 13:51 ET

Kinark: Decreases in Family Income Negatively Impact Children and Youth Mental Well-Being

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 29, 2009) - The mental well-being of children and youth is strongly associated with the household income of their family, according to a recently published study by the Human Resources and Social Development Canada and the Research Data Program. As Mental Health Week approaches (May 2-9, 2009), bringing this to the public's attention is even more important. Kinark Child and Family Services, a non-profit children's mental health organization in Ontario provides expert help to children, youth and their families to help better cope with mental distress.

"The number of children and youth struggling with mental health issues has steadily increased over the years, and with the current state of the economy it is unrealistic to think that children and youth are unaffected," says Peter Moore, executive director, Kinark Child and Family Services. "Adults think children are not affected by economic troubles, as they consider it a concern for them alone. It is important for parents to know that services are available for them and their children to learn how to deal with anxiety and depression associated with financial stress."

The study, which was conducted over a four-year period, found that children from higher income households had better mental well-being compared to those from lower income households. It also found that increases in household income continued to remain associated with improved mental well-being, even once children are out of low income status. (Statistics Canada, Study: Family income and the well-being of children).

Dr. Richard Meen, clinical director at Kinark Child and Family Services agrees.
"Children are hyper-vigilant to what is going on in the lives of their parents - they miss nothing. When things become difficult or stressful inside the home, children will go into survival mode, doing whatever it takes to feel comfortable. Behaviour is the language of children. It is vital that in difficult times parents and caregivers pay close attention to their children and recognize any changes in behaviour and address it before it becomes a way of life for them."

Emotional and mental health is a serious matter:

- One-in-five children in Ontario face mental health challenges. (CMHO)

- 1.2 Million Canadian young people are currently affected by a mental health concern (Statistics Canada)

- Mental illness is the strongest factor for youth suicide; every week, two children in Ontario commit suicide. (Statistics Canada)

- Young people with mental health disorders are at greater risk for dropping out of school, ending up in jail and of not being fully functional members of society in adulthood (UNICEF, Adolescence: A time that matters, 2002).

Kinark Child and Family Services can help. Here are warning signs that parents and caregivers should look for:

- Decline in school performance

- Regular worry or anxiety

- Repeated refusal to go to school or take part in normal children's activities

- Hyperactivity or fidgeting

- Persistent nightmares

- Persistent disobedience or aggression

- Frequent temper tantrums

- Depression, sadness and irritability

Kinark offers these basic facts for ensuring a child's good mental health:

- Unconditional love from family

- Help children maximize their potential in areas of their lives

- The opportunity to play and socialize with others

- Encouraging teachers and supportive caretakers

- Providing children with a safe and secure environment

- Appropriate guidance, structure and discipline

For more information on Kinark and its services, visit www.helpingfamilies.ca

About Kinark Child and Family Services

Kinark is a not-for-profit children's mental health organization in Ontario that provides expert help to children and youth, their families and communities. Kinark provides everything from parenting advice to help for children and youth with chronic and multiple mental health issues. In addition, Kinark provides intensive treatment and support to youth in conflict with the law as well as an extensive range of programs for children and youth diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Made up of 800 highly trained professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, social workers, and child and youth workers, Kinark's goal is to help children and youth live socially and emotionally healthy lives.

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