Child and youth mental health agencies across Ontario have been working hard to continue to provide services in the face of unprecedented challenges, evolving needs and increasing demand. As the pandemic forced a rapid transition to virtual care, we set to work to develop and compile resources to support the delivery of e-mental health services — and the teams who provide them. And we’re not done yet.

Looking for our virtual care resources? See our new virtual care page to find all the resources that were here before — and more!

Understanding the impact on young people and families

From the outset, we saw that provincial and federal measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 would have a significant impact on the daily lives of Ontario’s children, young people and families. That’s why we launched a research project with the CHEO Research Institute to better understand the impacts and how we — and others in our sector — could better support children, young people and families during and after the pandemic.

One year later, we took the research a step further to check in on how young people were doing, what mental health services and supports they had accessed since the beginning of the pandemic and how these services could be improved.

Here’s what we learned from what young people, parents and caregivers had to say:

Additional resources

The following evidence summaries and webinars were compiled and developed (many in partnership with Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO)) to support the delivery of child and youth mental health services — and the teams who provide them — in the face of unprecedented challenges, evolving needs and increasing demand.

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Evidence summaries

Mental health impacts of screen use for children and young people (August 2021)

Physical distancing measures pushed a lot of education, socialization and recreation online, meaning many children and young people have been spending six or more hours a day on screens throughout the pandemic. But even before, a lot of them were already exceeding guidelines and recommendations for screen time use. This document summarizes the latest evidence on the mental health impacts of screen use and highlights ways screen time can be managed to reduce negative effects.

Download the evidence summary

Back to school (September 2020)

The beginning of the school year can be an adjustment for children and young people in a normal year. Yet this year they are also facing extraordinary circumstances relating to the pandemic and infection control and prevention measures. To support service providers, young people and families in addressing stress related to back-to-school plans, we partnered with Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) and developed a suite of evidence reviews, resources and tools — and we will be adding more in the coming weeks.

Check out our evidence summary for community service providers

Consult the back-to-school mental health kit.

Supporting bereaved families (August 2020)

Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, some children, youth and families have experienced the loss of loved ones due to COVID-19 or other health-related causes. COVID-19 has impacted the way families and children are able to grieve and mourn the death of a loved one. Physical distancing restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have made it difficult for people to be present or to physically comfort family members or friends who are ill or dying. Service providers have identified the need for knowledge around the unique complexities of mourning and loss during a pandemic and key considerations when supporting bereaved children, youth and families.

The Centre and Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) have compiled evidence and resources to help child and youth mental health service providers support families experiencing grief during the pandemic.

Download the evidence summary

Pandemic impacts on child and youth mental health (July 2020)

The COVID-19 global pandemic has resulted in a rapid change to how community mental health services and supports are delivered. In addition to impacting the way services are delivered (with many providers shifting from in-person to virtual care), we have also heard anecdotally that the pandemic has impacted who is accessing services and the range and severity of presenting concerns.

Ontario’s service providing agencies have asked how can we prepare now to ensure we have the capacity to meet the volume and types of emerging child and youth mental health needs both through and post-pandemic?

Download the evidence summary

Check out our related webinar: The impact of COVID-19 on early years mental health

Supporting the wellbeing of mental health service providers (June 2020)

The emergence of COVID-19 in populations across the globe has had a significant impact on the delivery of child and youth mental health services in Ontario. Service providers and organizational leaders have been required to shift their usual ways of working to adapt their services and deliver virtual and/or in-person care safely. These unanticipated changes, along with changes to community and family life in response to the pandemic (e.g. social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine) have created the “perfect storm” for the emergence of mental health challenges and burnout across direct service providers.

Download the evidence summary

Talking to children and youth about COVID‑19 (April 2020)

The emergence of COVID-19 in populations across the globe has had a significant impact on children, youth and families. To support our community partners during this challenging time, the Centre compiled links to resources published by child and youth mental health organizations, professional associations and organizations relevant to child and youth care, to support discussions between parents/caregivers and children and youth.

The resources shared were gathered through a rapid, non-systematic scan of practice guidelines with an intent to support you in a timely fashion. The resources shared were not collected through an exhaustive search or systematic review, but reflect information available at the time of writing. As new practice evidence emerges, recommendations may evolve.

Download the evidence summary


Take good care: Conversations about leading and managing well-being in challenging times (April 2021)

Balancing leadership responsibilities and decision-making for an organization with one’s personal well-being and family concerns is no small feat at the best of times. For this webinar, we were joined by senior leaders from health, mental health and community contexts to discuss their approach to leadership during the pandemic and how they’re sustaining their own mental health and wellness to ward off burnout and continue to meet the challenges ahead.

The webinar recording is available here.

Don’t have time to watch the full webinar? Take a look at the summary, with links to relevant tools and resources.

The summary document is available here.

The impact of COVID-19 on early years mental health (January 2021)

Learn about the first wave pandemic experiences of Canadian families with children under the age of 6 and the types of services they did or did not have access to (based on a survey conducted in collaboration with Infant and Early Mental Health Promotion, Children First and Kids Brain Health Network). Hear our recommendations to make sure that families have access to the practical and mental health supports they need to ensure positive social-emotional development in their young children both during and post-pandemic.

The webinar recording is available here.

Back to school during COVID-19: What community-based child and youth mental health providers need to know (September 2020)

Back-to-school season can be stressful for many children, young people and families — and the pandemic is adding another layer of complexity to the situation. In partnership with Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO), we hosted a webinar focused on getting ready to support children, young people and their families as they make this transition, which looks like nothing we have encountered before.

In this webinar, a panel of presenters shared:

  • what the evidence tells us we might expect to see in children and young people as they prepare to return to school.
  • what young people and families are telling us they are experiencing and need.
  • resources, tools and tips to help you support clients.

The recording is available here.

Grade 12 to post-secondary: Transitions during COVID-19 (July 2020)

In July 2020 the Centre co-presented a webinar on how frontline staff in both campus and community settings can help build and bridge support for students transition to post-secondary education. This webinar was hosted by CICMH and presenters included the Centre, Children’s Mental Health Ontario, School Mental Health Ontario and Good2Talk.

The recording is available here.