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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Emotions: Helping Young Children Cope with Emotions
Introduction Your child was not born knowing how to control feelings or calm down, and needs to learn this from you. You are your child’s first and most important teacher. A loving relationship with your child is the best way you can help him or her learn to deal with difficult feelings. Unpleasant Feelings that Your Child May Have Anger   Anger is a common feeling and temper tantrums are normal in young children. They are your child’s way of letting you know that he or she is feeling angry, upset or frustrated. Try to find out what is bothering your child and respond differently depending on what is ...
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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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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 Services for Children and Youth
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 things such as…        I feel like I have things to live for I feel hopeful and good about the future I like myself I’m satisfied, content or happy with life I feel that people care about me I feel in control of my life What is Mental Illness? People have mental health problems ...
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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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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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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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Relationships
Introduction In our lives, we have many relationships, and all of these make a difference to our mental health. When our relationships go well, it helps our mental health. When we have problems with our relationships, it can cause stress and problems for our mental health.   Perhaps the most important relationship in our lives is our romantic relationship, i.e. the one that we have with our spouse, partner, husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend...   The following advice about our primary romantic relationship comes from the Gottman Institute, which is dedicated to the study of marital relationships -- what makes them, ...
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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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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-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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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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Skin Picking Disorder (aka. Excoriation Disorder)
"I just can't stop picking my skin!" Sally is a thirty something who just can't stop picking her skin. It usually starts off with some small blemish or imperfection. Unfortunately, Sally has a hard time affecting that things can't be perfect... And so the picking starts... Even when there is bleeding and scabs, she can't stop resist her urges. Summers are stressful in particular, because she worries about others seeing the scabs and scars on her arms and legs. She'd like to get help with it, but she's been so embarassed about it that its hard to talk to anyone about it... Introduction  It is common ...
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So You Want To Be Happy? The Secret to Mental Wellness and Happiness
What is the Secret to Happiness and Mental Wellness?  Everyone wants to be happy, i.e. have mental wellness, the state of well-being where we feel contentment, love, satisfaction, pleasure or joy. Throughout history, people have struggled to find the secret to happiness.   Mental wellness can be defined as the “state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, and is able to make a contribution to her or his own community” (Health Canada, 2014).    But simply living a life of pleasure is not enough to lead to a life of ...
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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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Stress
(Original title "Learn About... Stress", from the Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division) Introduction You have a major deadline coming up tomorrow and you still have a ton of work to do. Your child’s principal called; your child is being disruptive…again. You have 12 people coming over for dinner this weekend and you still have no idea what you’re going to make. On top of everything else, your mother isn’t feeling well but refuses to go to the doctor. Your muscles are feeling tense, you find yourself nervously tapping your feet as you sit at your desk. Your thoughts keep racing around in your ...
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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 in Children and Youth
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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Waiting for Mental Health Services: What Parents and Caregivers Can Do
1. Keep in touch with your mental health service provider  Ask to be put on a cancellation list (if your provider has one). This gives you the possibility of being seen more quickly. If another family cancels an appointment, your service provider calls you to see if your child or teen can make the appointment time. If not, you can wait for the next availabale appointment. Make sure your provider has up to date contact information for you, including a number where you can be reached during the day.    Let your mental health service provider (or family doctor) know if your child or teen is getting worse. Your ...
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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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