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A-Z Mental Health Conditions and Topics

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Abuse and Domestic Violence
What is Abuse and Domestic Violence? Abuse is behaviour used to intimidate, isolate, dominate or control another person. It may be a pattern of behaviour or it may be a single incident. Abusive behaviour might involve acts or words or even neglect.   Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or financial: Physical abuse is when someone hurts you physically in any way. It includes hitting, kicking, slapping, pinching, cutting, stabbing, and shooting. All of these examples are assault, which is a crime in Canada and the United States. Sexual touching or sexual activity is abuse if you do not consent or if ...
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Alcohol and Substance Use Problems in Children and Youth: Guide for Caregivers
David's Story Up until this school year, David was a regular teen who goes to school and hanging out with his friends. Recently, he's been moody and irritable all the time. His grades have been dropping, and his parents are certain that he's come home intoxicated or high at least a few times. His parents wonder about drug problems, but they just don't know what to do. David's been so irritable and withdrawn  that everyone in the family feels like they're walking on eggshells.... What are Alcohol and Substance Use Problems? Many children and youth have tried drugs and alcohol. Surveys have reported that ...
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Anger
Does any of this sound like you? Traffic is terrible today! It's making me very IRRITATED. My tax return is so complicated. It's making me very FRUSTRATED. I can't believe my mother would say something like that I'm really ANNOYED that my neighbour's garbage keeps getting strewn all over the alley! That driver just cut me off. I'm really IRATE about it! I'm so ANGRY! Read on to find out if you have a problem with managing your anger and what to do about it. Anger and Positive Change ANGER is an emotion that tells us someone or something has interfered with our goals, ...
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Anxiety in Adults
Do I Have an Anxiety Disorder? Do you find that that many of the following apply to you... I am often startled by the smallest thing I worry that something terrible will happen to me or others I am easily irritable I get sudden fears of dying or doing something out of control I often worry that something has not been done correctly even though I know I completed the task properly I am extremely worried about disease (e.g. germs, infections, dirt, dust, contaminates, cleanliness) I need constant reassurance I often find myself doing things repeatedly (e.g. hand washing, showering, tooth ...
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Anxiety in Children and Youth: Information for Parents and Caregivers
Introduction Dylan is afraid of the dark. Tricia hates to eat in front of other people. Eric becomes sick to his stomach and throws up if he has to speak aloud in class. Fears and worries are a very normal part of life for children and adults. However, if these worries become cause for concern because they are affecting day-to-day functioning significantly, we refer to these excessive worries as anxiety. How Common are Anxiety Disorders? Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in children and adults. Roughly 6% of children and youth have an anxiety disorder that is serious enough to require treatment. How Long ...
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Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) in Adults
Inattentive Ivan... Ivan is a 40-year old adult who never liked school. He found it painfully boring to sit through classes, and never did his homework nor studied for tests. He managed to get by, and was so happy when he left high school...   He thought things would get easier once he got out of school, and in some ways they have. But as an adult, there are many other problems he has...   With work, he finds that he gets bored of his jobs quickly, and as a result, has had troubles keeping work... In addition, he forgets deadlines, and has trouble organizing himself to get work done...   In relationships, ...
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Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD/ADHD) in Children and Youth: Information for Parents and Caregivers
What is Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? Everyone has trouble paying attention from time to time, especially during activities that are boring or not enjoyable. But for children and youth with ADHD/ADD, the problems with paying attention and getting distracted are so severe that youth can have problems with school, work and relationships.   There are 3 main types of ADHD:   1. Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)   This is the most common type, causing troubles with attention and hyperactivity. Typical symptoms of ADHD: Attention ...
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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Youth Edition
­ Do you: Have trouble focusing on things like reading, school work and tasks? Have troubles paying attention in class? Have problems getting homework or assignments done? Get easily distracted? Often lose things that you need? Tend to act impulsively or without thinking? If so, you might have ADD/ADHD, a brain condition which makes it hard for people to focus. If you have ADD/ADHD, there is good news! There are many things that can help you pay attention, and make life easier. What is Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? Everyone has ...
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Auditory Processing Disorders (APD)
Introduction Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), or Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is a condition which affects how people hear the sounds around them. APD makes it more difficult to hear, especially in noisy situations, even when a hearing test is normal.    If you or your child has APD, you may notice some of the following: Difficulties hearing when there is background noise despite normal hearing. Difficulty following multi-step, or multiple instructions. Difficulty following rapid or accented speech. Lower school achievements than would be expected, ...
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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Children and Youth: Information for Families
"Thomas likes trains..." Thomas is a 10-year-old boy who has always been really interested in trains. He knows so much about trains that he can go on and on with his vast, encyclopedic knowledge. If you wanted to know the train schedule at the local train station, he could tell you. Schoolwork has never been a concern and he has always done well in school with little effort.   Unfortunately, when it comes to anything involving people, he has a lot more difficulties. He just can't seem to relate to others, and has no friends. He doesn't seem to get social cues. He'll talk endlessly about trains without ...
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Autistic Disorder in Children, Youth and Adults: Information for Families
  This handout is specifically focused on Autistic Disorder (aka Autism, or Pervasive Developmental Disorder), which is one of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs).   For more information about 'high functioning' Asperger's Disorder or Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD NOS), please see our separate handout on those topics. Introduction A young boy plays hours on end busily lining up cars in perfect rows. A girl at school flaps her arms wildly whenever she gets excited. Another student constantly rocks back and forth. All of these children and youth have Autistic ...
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Bedwetting (Enuresis): Information for Parents and Caregivers
Definition of bedwetting Because young children are not capable of staying dry through the night, a child is not considered to have problems with bedwetting until at least age 5.   Children are considered to have bedwetting if: A child aged 5-6 that has two or more bedwetting episodes per month A child aged 7 and above that has one or more bedwetting episodes per month Bedwetting is very common in children who are going through toilet training.   How common is bedwetting? At age 5, 15-25% of children wet the bed At age 6, 15-30% still have at least one episode of bedwetting a ...
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Bipolar Disorder in Adults
Introduction Ever since his mid 20's, a normally shy man gets high energy periods lasting up to several days where he doesn't need to sleep, and where he impulsively goes on spending sprees that put him into severe debt. These high periods are often followed by periods of severe low mood and depression, even to the point where he has thoughts of suicide. What's going on here? Is it normal mood swings, or could it be something else? What Is Bipolar Disorder? Everyone gets mood swings whereby sometimes our mood and energy is up, and where sometimes our mood and energy is down. But if you have mood swings so severe that it ...
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Bipolar Disorder in Children and Youth: Information for Families
What Is Bipolar Disorder? All of us have changes and swings in our mood which are normal. There are times when our mood is up, and we have more energy and excitement about things. There are other times when our moods are down, and we have less energy.   However, people with bipolar disorder  have periods of extreme mood change that  cause serious problems in their lives.   In the classic form of bipolar, people have episodes of depression and of mania, when their mood, energy, thinking and behaviour gets stuck for a period of time at a very  low or a  very high level. Hence the term, ...
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Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Introduction M. is an 18-yo who has been increasingly obsessed with her "horrible pimples" and "big nose". And despite the fact that she gets asked out on dates all the time, she has now become so concerned about her appearance that she has recently stopped going to school. "I can't go out - people will see how ugly I am."   J. is a 7-yo boy who believes his hair is "all wrong" and that his stomach is "fat", despite the beliefs of his friends and family who see none of these 'defects'. But now it's to the point where he refuses to go to school unless he combs his ...
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Borderline Personality Disorder in Adults
Introduction All humans are social, and one of our deepest needs is to attach, or feel connected to others. After all, we cannot survive without others. When we are young, our most important attachments are to parents and adult caregivers. As we become older, our attachments change to include friends and peers. In adulthood, it changes to focus on romantic partners.    Because one of our deepest needs is to attach, it is natural then, that one of our deepest fears is lack of attachment, or rejection, or abandonment. For people with borderline personality disorder, these fears become overwhelming and ...
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Borderline Personality Traits in Youth
Introduction All humans are social, and one of our deepest needs is to attach, or feel connected to others. In fact, we can’t survive without others. When we’re young, our most important attachments are to parents and adult caregivers. As we get older, our attachments change to include friends and peers. In adulthood, it changes to focus on romantic partners.    Because one of our deepest needs is to attach, it is natural then, that one of our deepest fears is lack of attachment, or rejection, or abandonment. For youth with borderline  personality traits, these fears become overwhelming and ...
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Bullying in Children and Youth: Guide for Caregivers
What is Bullying? Bullying is a form of aggression in which one individual is exposed to deliberately harmful actions by a more aggressive person.  Bullying can be physical (e.g., hitting, pushing, tripping), verbal (e.g., name calling, insults, put-downs), social (e.g., social isolation, rumours) or cyber (e.g., threats or insults spread through internet or cell phone).   It is also possible for the same child to be both a bully and a victim. There are also "provocative victims" (term coined by Olweus, 2001), who display negative behaviours that annoy bullies and lead them to take action.   School ...
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Children and Youth Coping With Grief, Bereavement and Loss: Information for Families
Introduction At some point, we all face the loss or death of a loved one. This is a difficult experience for a person of any age, but is particularly hard for young people. Adults may be uncertain on how to respond to the needs of children during this time. They might be overwhelmed with their own grief or have questions about how to explain such a difficult concept in ways that children can understand. Even when adults respond the best that they can, a child may still be overwhelmed by grief issues.    This article describes how children are affected by grief and bereavement, and what family and friends can do to support a ...
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Children and Youth with Thoughts of Suicide: Guide for Parents and Caregivers
What is Suicide? Suicide is the act of ending one's life. People can get thoughts about committing suicide for many reasons, such as when a person is under so many stresses that they become overwhelmed and cannot cope.     Typical stresses may include: Home stress, such as conflict/disgreements with mother, father, siblings... School stress such as problems with friends, schoolwork, teachers, bullies... Work stress such as problems with co-workers, bosses, workload... Other problems such as depression, anxiety, substance use People can feel suicidal when they feel 1) disconnected from other ...
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Children/Youth Who Hear Voices: Information for Family and Caregivers
Dave’s Story Dave is a 10-yo boy who has started to hear voices. He has always been somewhat quiet, and not been that talkative about his thoughts and feelings. The voices appear triggered when he is under more stress, e.g. conflicts with classmates or not understanding work at school. When he is angry, the voices are angry. When he is feeling good, the voices are nice…  How Common are Voices? Studies show that voices are quite common, though the exact numbers vary depending on the study:   At a single point in time About 2-3% of the general population hears voices (Tien, 1991)  In ...
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Coping with Thoughts of Suicide: Youth Edition
Many youth will have thoughts of suicide. These thoughts can range from simply wishing for the pain to end, all the way to taking steps to seriously harming themselves. People who have thoughts of suicide often struggle with distress for a long time. They consider death as one option for stopping their pain. Others might have a sudden urge when they live a moment they find difficult to accept.    When we asked youth about suicide:   Guys told us... 1 out of every 7 or 8 guys said they had thoughts of suicide in the past; About 1 in every 15 guys said they had current thoughts ...
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Cutting Back or Quitting Drinking
Introduction Many people who drink moderately put themselves and others at risk of alcohol-related harms. These people often believe that only “alcoholics,” people who are dependent on alcohol, cause car accidents or bar brawls. They believe that because they are not dependent themselves, they can drink freely without worrying about the consequences. But the truth is that moderate drinkers cause as much damage as heavy drinkers.   Many moderate drinkers—particularly those who sometimes drink to the point of intoxication—walk a fine line between living normal, productive lives and living recklessly, wearing ...
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Delirium: Information for Parents and Caregivers
What Is It? Delirium is a sudden change in how a person thinks or acts.   Delirium can occur in all ages, though the elderly and the very young, are at the highest risk.   It can happen to anyone, however most commonly happens to patients who are already in hospital. Signs of Delirium The first sign of delirium is that you notice that your loved one appears to act differently and not as you’d expect. Caregivers often say, “He is not himself… This is not like my child at all….”   Classic signs include: Confusion and disorientation, such as: Getting ...
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Dementia
Sally's Story "I was just going out for a walk..."   Sally is a 75-yo widow, active in her community, with an outgoing personality and a great sense of humor. She lives alone, but her daughter lives in town, and checks in on her occasionally. Over the last few months however, she has become noticeably more forgetful, to the where she has gone for walks while leaving the stove on. Last week, she went out for her usual morning walk, but got lost. Luckily, one of the neighbours that was driving by happened to recognize her, and brought her home.   Is this normal aging? Or is it something else? What is ...
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Depression in Adults
What is Depression? Everyone has times when they feel the ‘blues' or when they get sad from time to time. Depression on the other hand, is a sadness so severe that it can cause: Difficulties functioning at home, work or school Changes in sleep, energy, appetite and concentration, Feelings such as sadness, anxiety, irritability or anger, Low self-esteem or feelings of hopelessness. When extremely severe, people who are depressed may have thoughts of hurting themselves. How Common is Depression? Depression is a common condition that can affect anyone at any age. In any given year, it is estimated that ...
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Depression in Children and Youth: Information for Parents and Caregivers
What is depression? It is normal for children and youth to feel sad from time to time.  But this sadness doesn’t stop them from going on with their everyday activities.  And it goes away on its own.  Depression, on the other hand, is a sadness so severe that it interferes with everyday life.   Typical symptoms of depression (aka clinical depression, or major depressive disorder) are: Feeling sad, worried, irritable or angry Lack of enjoyment in life, or troubles enjoying anything Feeling hopeless and worthlessHaving troubles coping with everyday activities at home, school, or ...
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Depression in Youth: Youth Edition
Amanda's story When I was 15 years old, my parents split up, and I stayed with my mom. She had to work longer hours, so I had to take on more responsibilities at home. When I got home each day, I’d have so much stuff to do, that it became hard to keep up with school, homework, and my friends. I felt completely overwhelmed and was literally getting sick from all the stress I was under. I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t sleep. I felt like my life was unraveling.   My mom was having a hard time with the separation, and was working a lot. I didn’t see my dad much. I started to turn more to my friends and my ...
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Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)
What Is It? Most of us have experienced some form of dissociation at some point in our lives. For example, you may have dissociated or spaced out during boring situations such as a long, boring drive, and then not really remember how you got somewhere. Or you may have experienced stressful situations where you were numb or spaced out and can’t really recall what happened. However, when a person is faced with overwhelming stress as may happen with abuse, dissociation is a normal process that can happen to deal with the stress. For example, a child who experiences sexual abuse may ‘space out’ as a way to protect herself ...
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Eating Disorders in Adults
Introduction Everyone has times when they don't eat normally; sometimes we eat less, sometimes we eat more. But when a person has such extremes of eating that it causes problems, it may be an eating disorder.   These extremes may range from purposely starving oneself and trying to not eat in order to lose weight, to the opposite extreme of binging or overeating. At either extreme, there are usually feelings of extreme distress or concern about body weight or shape.   A person with an eating disorder may have started out just eating smaller or larger amounts of food than usual, but at some point, the urge to eat ...
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Eating Disorders (including Anorexia and Bulimia) in Children and Youth: Information for Parents and Caregivers
What are Eating Disorders? Eating disorders are a group of potentially fatal conditions where people experience severe problems with their eating, which affect them physically and emotionally.   Things may start off as a diet, where your child is doing something to try and feel better about him or herself.  From there, however, it can quickly escalate into a dangerous, life threatening eating disorder.   On the outside, you may notice the visible signs of an eating disorder in your child, such as not eating, binge-eating on food, vomiting, or being obsessed with how his or her body looks.  On the inside, your ...
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Eating Disorders: Youth Edition
What are eating disorders (EDs)? Eating disorders are different types of unhealthy eating patterns. Statistics tell us that EDs happen more often in girls and young women, but we're learning that more and more boys and men experience EDs too. For the most part, they involve eating either too much or too little. Other behaviours can also come along with disordered eating, like exercising too much, obsessing about food, throwing up, or taking laxatives to get rid of food you've eaten. What types of eating disorders are there? The most common types are:   1. Anorexia Nervosa    Also known as Anorexia. ...
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Encopresis (aka Soiling): Guide for Parents and Caregivers
What is soiling (aka. Encopresis)? Soiling (also known as encopresis) is when a toilet-trained child has bowel movements in places other than the toilet (for example, in their underwear or while sleeping), when he/she loses control of their bowel. Constipation is by far the most common cause of encopresis in children. How does soiling (encopresis) happen? Children often put off going for a bowel movement or resist the urge to poop when they are stressed about toilet training, or simply busy playing! Over time, this can lead to stool becoming hard, dry, and difficult to pass. By this point, constipation makes bowel movements hurt, and ...
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Fear of Vomiting (Emetophobia) in Children and Youth
What is the Fear of Vomiting (Emetophobia)? It is normal to dislike the thought of vomiting, but for someone with emetophobia, the thought of vomiting is so terrifying that it can end up controlling a person's life.   The person may: Avoid going out, due to fear of vomiting Avoid eating in public places (such as restaurants), or with other people Avoid any place or situation where there is the slightest possibility that the person (or others) may vomit Become upset even at the mere mention of the word ‘vomit,' or synonyms like ‘throw up', ‘barf,' ‘puke,' ...
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Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
About the Disorder Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is an umbrella term that describes a wide range of effects that can occur in a child whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. Prenatal alcohol exposure can cause significant brain damage. The effects of FASD typically include physical, mental, and learning disabilities as well as behavioral deficits and problems with socialization.   FASD includes the following categories: Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)—This is indicated by a pattern of neurological, behavioral, and cognitive deficits along with specific facial features. Alcohol-related ...
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Gender Identity and Diversity: Information for Parents and Caregivers
Introduction For many people, the sex we are born with (designated at birth) is a good match for how we see ourselves on the inside. But for some, the sex and gender identity don’t match at all. This could mean that: A child who is born male at birth, feels like a girl on the inside A child who is born female at birth, feels like a boy on the inside A child or youth does not identify completely as either a boy or a girl Gender While some people see gender as ‘binary’ (either you’re male or female), others see it very differently. Another way to think about gender is as a continuum, a scale ...
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Grief and Bereavement
What is Grief? Grief is the normal response of sadness and other feelings that come from losing someone close to you.   Feeling grief is a natural part of life, because at some point, we will all face the loss of a loved one.   Bereavement is the period after a loss during which a person experiences grief and is in mourning. What is Normal Grief? After the death or loss of a loved one, you may feel all sorts of feelings such as feeling: Sad Anxious, worried or scared Empty and numb Angry You may find yourself having physical reactions such as: Problems ...
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Helping Children and Youth Cope After Traumatic Events
Children and youth can have strong emotional reactions (or stress reactions) after a difficult experience. A traumatic event is one that causes a child or teen to react with horror, fear and distress. Events that might cause a stress reaction include:  Being in a car crash  Getting badly hurt  Witnessing violence  Nearly drowning  Seeing another person get badly hurt  How do children and youth react after traumatic events?  Everyone is different, and reactions often depend on a child’s age.  After a traumatic event, children and youth may ...
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Helping Children Feel Good About Their Bodies
Eating disorders, now considered the third most common chronic illness among adolescent girls, are serious emotional problems that are manifested through weight and food issues. They can have life-threatening consequences. Behaviors that include dieting, bingeing, self-induced vomiting, using diet pills and laxatives are seen in more than 27% of girls aged 12 to 18 years.   Eating disorders develop in boys and girls for a lot of different reasons. Eating disorders may stem from anxiety or depression, or from feeling a loss of control due to a family situation, trauma, or other stresses. Those who tend to develop eating disorders are ...
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Hoarding Disorder (aka Pathologic Hoarding)
Introduction Mike is unable to throw out any of his newspapers, and so he has every single newspaper for his local paper going back decades... Melissa has over thirty cats in her small apartment. Dave has collected so much possessions that he is embarassed to have people over at his home... Due to public health complaints from neighbours and concerns by the fire department, all of them are in danger of losing their homes. What is Hoarding Disorder? Especially in a materialistic society like ours, everyone collects things. But when people collect so many things that it starts causing problems, it may be hoarding disorder, also known as ...
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Insomnia and Sleep Problems
Introduction It seems like life is getting more and more stressful all the time, with demands for work, school, family and home responsibilities. As a result, we often cut back on the very things that are the most important, like getting enough sleep…   Getting enough sleep is essential. Studies show that getting enough sleep is essential for maintaining proper health. Furthermore, lack of sleep can cause numerous health and related problems. It is a risk factor for mental health problems such as depression, and can also contribute to cardiovascular and other conditions. Being sleep deprived also significantly increases your ...
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Lead Poisoning
Are my children at risk of lead exposure? Are your children: Living in or regularly visiting a house or day care center built before 1950? Living in or regularly visiting a house built before 1978 with peeling or chipping paint or recent (within the last 6 months), ongoing or planned renovation? Living with or regularly visiting a sibling, housemate or playmate with lead poisoning? Living with an adult whose job or hobby involves exposure to lead? Living near an active lead smelter, battery recycling plant, or other industry likely to release lead? Recent refugee, immigrant, or child adopted from outside ...
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Learning Disabilities
Lynn’s story Lynn is a typical 10 year old who likes sports and hanging out with her friends. She is an average student, getting B’s in all subjects, except for math… Math has always been tough for her compared to other subjects. But this year, she’s been failing all her math classes. Even when she asks her teacher for help, she still doesn’t understand. Her dad thinks, ‘Well, I wasn’t good at math either, so that’s why she’s failing’. Her mom thinks that Lynn is being lazy and she should just ‘work harder’. Is Lynn’s trouble with math because she is lazy or because ...
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Mental Health and Mental Illness in Children and Youth: Fact Sheet for Parents and Caregivers
What is Mental Health? Mental health (like our physical health) is a resource for living. It allows us to learn, work, play and find enjoyment in life. It helps us through tough times.   From a child or teen’s point of view, mental health means… I feel like I have things to live for I feel that people care about me I feel hopeful and good about the future I feel in control of my life I like myself I’m satisfied, content or happy with life What is Mental Illness? People have mental health problems or mental illnesses when problems with thoughts, feelings or ...
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Mental Health and Mental Illness: Youth Edition
Mental Health vs. Mental Illness  Many people talk about mental health and mental illness as if they were the same thing. But they’re not the same thing at all.    For starters, mental health is something we all have. Mental illness only affects some people. Just like physical health, there are some things that you can do to be mentally healthy and reduce your chances of developing a mental illness.  What is Mental Health?  Mental health is your brain’s ability to:  Make sense of and interact with the world around you;  Enjoy life;  Realize your personal ...
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Misophonia
Is this you? Do you get upset, irritated or very angry when you hear people: Eating or chewing with their mouths open? Sniffling? Typing on a keyboard? Making other soft sounds that others aren’t bothered by? If so, you may have misophonia. What is Misophonia? Many of us have had the experience of hearing sounds that make us feel uncomfortable. The sound of fingernails scraping across a chalkboard makes many people cringe. Sirens or smoke alarms make our hearts beat faster. Being very aware of certain sounds, and reacting strongly to them may have been very helpful to early humans. This may have ...
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My Safety Plan
My triggers What are my top triggers or stresses?  How can I manage my triggers or stresses?                 My Warning Signs What are my warning signs that tell me I’m starting to get overwhelmed? (for example, withdrawing from others or sleeping more)     Thoughts (for example, thinking negative dark thoughts; that things will never get better; about ways to harm yourself)     Emotions (example: starting to feel hopeless, guilty or angry)     Body sensations (example: a racing ...
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Nature and Why It’s Essential For Kids’ Brains: Information for Parents and Caregivers
Introduction  All parents want to raise happy, healthy children, but in spite of our best efforts, many children and youth struggle with physical and mental health problems in today's world.    The good news is that there is an easy way to help our children’s and teens’ physical, mental and spiritual health...  ...Spontaneous, unstructured outdoor play! Spontaneous, unstructured outdoor play is letting kids be kids outdoors, creating on their own without adult interference. It means letting kids: Be outdoors with fresh air, sunlight and the sounds of nature.   Use their ...
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Needle Phobia in Children and Youth
What Is Needle Phobia? Fear of needles is very common in children and adults. All children get needles through their regular immunizations. Those with medical illnesses or problems will need to get even more needles for injections or blood work. Most children and adults are able to overcome their fears, and it does not stop them from getting necessary immunizations, injections or blood work.   But if the fear is so great that it stops that person from getting needles, then it may be a condition known as ‘needle phobia'. Definition of Needle Phobia According to the DSM-IV (Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental ...
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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in Adults
Introduction Most people have had times when certain thoughts or images get stuck in our head. Like getting a certain song stuck in your head; worrying that we forgot to turn off the stove at home.   But when such thoughts get so extreme that it gets in the way of daily life, it may be the sign of obsessive compulsive disorder... What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition where people have troubles with obsessions and/or compulsions: Obsessions are distressing thoughts or images that won't go away, for example, worries about being dirty or ...
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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in Children and Youth
"He just can't stop washing..." William is an 8-yo boy who enjoys hanging out with his friends and family, and is a great soccer player. But over the past few months, he's been much more concerned about his cleanliness. In the beginning, his parents thought it was great, because he began showering more often. But now he needs to shower several times a day and will actually get upset and angry if he can't have his shower. And in the past few weeks, he's become extremely concerned about germs to the point where he won't even touch door handles. And if he does, he has to wash his hands, and so now it's to the ...
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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Youth Edition
My Story (Part 1) My name is Mike. I’m 15 years old and my OCD began not long after starting high school. I think like most people, I was excited and stressed at the same time. One day, after watching a TV show about germs, I became very worried about getting sick. I became obsessed by the idea that I could get contaminated by these microscopic germs. Every time I met someone, or touched a door knob or heard someone sneeze, I would worry.   I started to worry about bringing these germs back home and harming my whole family. Soon, every time I tried to leave the house, I would panic and need to go back to clean my hands and ...
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Operational Stress Injury (OSI)
What is an Operational Stress Injury (OSI)? An OSI is term used to describe any persistent psychological injury resulting from operational or work-related duties in the military or police service. What causes OSI's? Many situations may cause an OSI, which include: Being involved in combat Witnessing atrocities Coming close to death Being assaulted Seeing someone killed or killing someone Being held hostage Natural disasters Handling injured bodies and human remains Canadian Forces and law enforcement personnel are regularly exposed to extreme situations beyond the experience of ...
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Opioid Medications: Information for Patients and Families
What are Opioids? Opioids are a group of similar medications that are used to help with pain.   There are different types of opioids, with different names for example, Percocet®, OxyContin®, Tylenol® No. 2, Tramacet®.   Opioids are used to improve your ability to be active and reduce pain.   You and your doctor will set goals and ensure the medication is effective in achieving the goals, e.g. improving your ability to do the things you did before pain prevented you.   If you seem to benefit from the pain medication, your doctor will see you for follow-up visits to assess pain ...
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Panic Attacks in Adults
Introduction Dave had his first panic attack about 3-months ago. He remembers the exact day and time it happened; he was at work, trying to meet an important deadline when out of the blue, he felt this sudden attack of intense panic. It passed after about 10-minutes, but he had to go home early that day. Since then, he continues to get attacks and they appear to be getting worse. The last one happened when he was out shopping. Since then, he only leaves his home to go to work, and otherwise tries to stay home, out of fear that another attack will happen.... What are Panic Attacks? Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense anxiety and ...
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Panic Attacks in Children and Youth: Information for Parents and Caregivers
Petra's Story Petra is in her last year of high school. Unfortunately, it has been a stressful year -- there have been difficulties with peers, and the work has been very hard as well. Now she’s having periods out of the blue where she feels panicky and anxious for no reason. During these times, she feels her heart racing, starts sweating and has to leave the room, and ends up hiding in the bathroom until she feels better. Things are so bad that she is starting to skip classes in order to avoid having an attack…   
How would you support Petra? Introduction Everyone gets anxious from time to ...
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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Introduction It's natural to be afraid and upset something terrible happens to you or someone you know. But sometimes people experience an event that is so overwhelming that it continues to have a serious effect on them, long after the danger has passed. If you feel afraid and upset weeks or months later, it's time to talk with your doctor. You might have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fortunately, even if you have PTSD, you can get treatment and feel better. What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to traumatic events ...
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Postpartum Depression
One Mother's Story "After my first child was born, I started to cry all the time and feel sad. And I felt guilty because you're supposed to be happy about being a new mom and all that. So I hid all of the sadness from everyone else. The funny thing is, that I was doing such a good job at making things look good on the surface, that no one knew I was depressed. But I knew it was time to get help when I started to really resent my child."   "I saw my family doctor, who told me that I had Post-Partum Depression. We started with some counselling but after a few weeks things weren't getting any better, so I ...
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Problem Gambling
What is gambling? Gambling involves any activity in which a person takes the chance of losing money or belongings, and when winning or losing is decided mostly by chance.   Gambling is a common activity in our society. Common forms of gambling include buying lottery tickets, playing poker with friends, or going to a casino. When done in moderation, gambling can be a fun activity. But at its extreme, gambling can cause problems such as bankruptcy, loss of relationships, and even lead people to commit suicide. What is problem gambling? When gambling becomes so excessive that it starts causing problems, it is known as ...
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Psychosis in Children and Youth: Information for Parents and Caregivers
What Is Psychosis? Psychosis is a serious medical condition in which a person has trouble telling the difference between what is real and what is not real, typically with symptoms such as delusions and/or hallucinations:   Delusions: These are fixed, false beliefs, which do not have a basis in reality. Paranoid delusions are one common type of delusion, where a person may become suspicious of others and worried about being harmed by others. It may include fears of being spied on or being followed. Delusions may be "bizarre" which are delusions that are strange and completely impossible, e.g. believing that one is ...
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Schizophrenia: Information for Consumers, Families and Caregivers
Introduction Schizophrenia is a serious brain disorder that causes changes in a person's thoughts, perceptions, emotions and behaviours. It can make someone hear or see things that others cannot see. It can make someone feel unsafe, afraid, and lead to avoiding other people, and loss of function. Without proper treatment, it can cause serious problems with school, work and relationships. Fortunately, help is available for those with schizophrenia. In addition, there are many things that family and friends can do to support their loved ones with schizophrenia. Do I Have Schizophrenia? The following is a list of some symptoms of ...
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Seasonal Depression (aka Winter Depression)
What is Seasonal Depression? "I used to really hate the winters. I'd get sad and start crying for no reason. I'd just hibernate - stop going out, sleep all the time, and couldn't stop eating carbs, and I'd gain ten pounds every winter. And then I realized that really what I had was winter depression."   Seasonal affective disorder (aka SAD, season depression or winter depression in North America) is a type of depression that occurs in the fall/winter months. It usually begins in late fall or early winter and goes away by summer, and is felt to be due to the seasonal lack of sunlight.   But ...
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Selective Mutism in Children and Youth: Information for Parents and Caregivers
“She won't speak to anyone…” Jane is 6 years old and can dance and sing in front of her family…. she might even be the next Idol! But in music class she is paralyzed by fear and can’t say a word.   Jay is a 7 year old boy who plays soccer with his brothers and talks excitedly about his favorite World Cup team. Yet, at recess time, he stands alone watching the other kids play soccer and doesn’t speak when others ask him if he wants to play. Some of the kids think he’s a snob, and so they ignore him.   Mary is a 5 year old girl who talks at home with all her brothers, ...
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Self-Compassion: More Important Than Self-Esteem, and Perhaps the Key to Mental Health
Samantha’s Story, Part 1  Samantha usually has a good day at work. She’s normally on time, she has a reasonable boss, and her co-workers are pretty easy-going. But recently, she had a very bad day. She was late for work. Her boss was upset. And she had a disagreement with a co-worker.   As a result, a negative, self-critical voice started running in her head: “I'm such a disappointment. Nobody likes me! Why do I even bother? No matter what I do, it’s going to fail.”   Samantha had a rough childhood. She didn’t feel accepted by her parents, and at school, there was a bully ...
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Self-Harm Behaviours in Children and Youth: Information for Parents and Caregivers
Mary's Story Mary is a 12-yo teenager who has always been somewhat quiet and shy, so her mother was surprised when she found out that Mary started dating a boy this school year. But lately, Mary's been a lot moodier than usual. And just the other day, Mary's mother caught a glimpse of Mary's forearms and saw that they had scratches and cuts all over them. Like most parents would feel in such a situation, Mary's mother felt suddenly scared and confused, and thought to herself "This is terrible! I've no idea how to deal with this! What am I supposed to do!" What is Self-Harm? Self-harm (or the official ...
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Self-Harm: Information for Adults
What is self-harm? Self-harm is when people purposely try to hurt themselves. Common ways of self-harm include: Self-cutting Scratching or burning one's skin "Minor" overdosing of medications (taking excess amounts of medications but not enough to kill oneself) Head banging (banging one's head against a wall).Who Self-Harms? People of all ages may self-harm, though self-injury behaviours start on average at age 15, and is most commonly seen in teenagers and young adults.  Why do people self-harm? It is believed that people self-harm in order to cope or deal with some stress. Some of ...
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Sensory Processing Problems in Children and Youth
Introduction A boy is so sensitive to being touched that he can't stand being hugged or touched, his parents even need to cut tags off his clothing. A girl is so sensitive to noise that when it gets loud, she starts to cry or have tantrums. Another girl needs to move constantly to the point where teachers and other students find her constant moving disruptive. What's up with these children? Are they simply being oppositional or difficult children? Is it bad parenting? Or could it be something else... Sensory Processing Problems Sensory processing problems is a complex condition where a person misinterprets information from ...
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Sleep in Youth: Information for Caregivers
How Does Sleep Usually Happen?  The brain has an internal clock that tells us when we need to sleep. When it becomes dark outside in the evening, this clock is triggered to make melatonin. Melatonin is a brain chemical that makes us feel sleepy.    When youth reach adolescence, their sleep pattern changes. Their inner clocks shift, making them want to stay up later and sleep later the next morning. This can be difficult if they have an early school start time. Even so, try to accommodate this as far as possible.  How Much Sleep Does My Teen Need?  Every teen is different, but most youth between 12-18 ...
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Social Anxiety Disorder in Adults
Introduction It's the adult who has never dated because he's too shy to talk to members of the opposite sex. It's the quiet employee who is underappreciated by his co-workers and underpaid by his company. It's that great, funny person that you know, but who suffers from loneliness because s/he is too shy unless around close friends and relatives... Overview It is normal for everyone to be shy at certain times. For example, many people would have some nervousness about doing a big presentation, or about meeting a new boss for the first time. Having "just enough" shyness is good because it helps prevent people ...
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Social Anxiety in Children and Youth: Information for Parents and Caregivers
Introduction It's the student who struggles at school because she's too afraid to ask questions in class. It's the teenager who suffers from loneliness from not having any friends because he's too shy to talk to anyone in school. It's shyness so severe that it gets in the way of life...   Shyness runs along a spectrum. It is normal for everyone to be shy at certain times. It is appropriate to be more shy in some situations than in others.  Some cultures value shyness more than others, especially for children. Social anxiety disorder is more than just normal shyness - it is shyness so severe that it gets in ...
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Social Anxiety: Youth Edition
What is Social Anxiety Disorder? Many people feel shy or stressed in social situations. But when you feel so anxious that it’s hard to go out and take part in everyday activities, you might have social anxiety disorder (sometimes called “Social Phobia”). People with social anxiety can become very fearful about things like:  Meeting new people;  Going somewhere new;  Speaking in public;  Eating or drinking in front of others;  Making phone calls;  Going to school or work;  Going shopping;  Taking the bus.  Many people with ...
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Straight Talk About Mental illness: Information for Siblings
About 1 in 5 young people experience a mental illness like anxiety or depression before their 18th birthday. Chances are you probably already know someone with mental illness, like a friend, classmate or teammate. Sometimes, it’s a brother or sister coping with a mental illness. When this happens, it can be hard to know what the right thing is to do or say. It can also be confusing if you don’t have a good understanding of mental illness. This information sheet should help answer some questions for you. Ways to help your brother or sister “Do’s”   Some things that could help: Do be open and ...
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Suicide
Introduction Suicide is not a topic most people want to talk about; but odds are you know someone who has attempted or died by suicide. Maybe you’ve even lost a friend, family member or coworker to suicide. At last count, 3613 people in Canada took their own lives. That’s more lives lost than from traffic accidents and murders combined that year. Suicide has been called a “hidden epidemic,” it’s time to take it out of the shadows. Who does it affect? Studies show that up to 90% of people who take their own lives have depression, substance use problems or another mental disorder—whether diagnosed or ...
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Trichotillomania
What is Trichotillomania? Trichotillomania (pronounced as "trick-o-till-o-mania",  commonly called "trich" or also known simply as ‘hair pulling') is a condition where a person has repeated, uncontrollable urges to pull out hair from their scalp, eyelashes, nose hair, ear hair, eyebrows or other body hair. Hair pulling by itself is not harmful -- but it can lead to social problems with others. Many adult individuals with trich report leading perfectly normal lives, with the difference that they happen to have more bald spots than others. In others though, their trichotillomania can cause problems with ...
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Unplug (from Technology) and Connect: Keeping Families Strong in a Wired World
Introduction  Our brains are wired to require strong relationships, attachments and face-to-face social contact with fellow human beings for happiness and well-being. Good relationships and healthy bonds to others keep us resilient and allow us to bounce back from setbacks. Unfortunately, our technologies and devices are so addictive, that many people are more connected to their devices than each other. The very devices that were meant to make life easier for us are now threatening to disconnect us from one another and thus, damage our physical and emotional health...   Children and youth now use technologies that did not ...
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Upsetting News Events: Helping Your Children and Youth Cope
Chris’s story, part 1 Chris is a 10-year old boy who heard about a recent terrorist attack on the news. Ever since then, he is worried when parents leave the house, and is having trouble sleeping at night. When he expresses his fear, his father tells him not to worry.   His dad reminds him that it’s safe in their home, that they have a security system, and that they can call the police if they have trouble. But Chris is still anxious, no matter how much his parents try to reason with him. What news events are upsetting for children? We all want our children to grow up feeling safe. But almost every day, ...
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When Your Brother or Sister Has Psychosis: Information for Youth
Introduction "When my sister got sick she was acting really bizarre and the police had to take her to emergency. It was really scary. My friends didn't understand at first that it was just because her brain was sick, but they do now." Why is my brother or sister acting this way? Psychosis is an illness of the brain. It is caused in part by genetic (inherited) brain problems plus stress or street drugs like marijuana and crystal meth. When the brain gets ill, it is hard for the person to know what is wrong. They may make up and believe other explanations for why they feel so weird, and they may act strangely. It will be ...
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