Annually, Mental Health Week is acknowledged during the first week of May with an emphasis on children’s mental health.  The Phoenix Centre for Children and Families and Children’s Mental Health Ontario, which represents nearly 100 children and youth mental health centres across the province, remind families that we remain open to provide mental health services in our community.

Now more than ever, Ontario’s community mental health and addictions public providers want families to consider their mental health and well-being during this unprecedented time of COVID-19.

Prior to COVID-19, demand for kids’ mental health services was high with a wait list of 28,000 and wait times varying between three months to two years depending on where you live and the type of service required. COVID-19 has brought an increase in mental health deterioration and an increased demand for services and CMHO is anticipating even more need in the coming months.

The pandemic has been challenging for all families, but for families that include children with mental illness, it can be even more difficult and our agency is preparing for a major uptick in demand for child and youth mental health services.

Understanding that most families are feeling some anxieties and concerns regarding the pandemic, it’s important to recognize when to seek help. For example, when a child’s behaviour changes and their worries, low-mood, or irritability become so strong that it affects their day-to-day activities, it is important to reach out for help.

Signs to look for that may indicate your child may need mental health support to help them manage anxiety can include physical symptoms such as stomach aches, nausea, difficulties breathing, a faster heartbeat, muscle tension, sweatiness, shakiness, dizziness, and headaches. Anxiety can also affect a child’s behaviour by causing increased irritability, sleep challenges, or difficulties separating from parents.

If your child has shared with you that they are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, it is important to seek immediate help.

Mental health service providers are deemed an essential service and are as important as physical health. You can find help locally for children and youth at or by calling 613-735-2374.