It was already a challenge, even before the pandemic: helping young people and their families navigate Canada’s complex, fragmented mental health system. But experts say COVID could also serve as a catalyst for much-needed change, an opportunity to make meaningful improvements. Just like the rest of us, young people are spending more time than ever in front of screens; up to 7.5 hours per day, in the case of high school students. But those same apps and social media sites that are taking up more of our days could also be a force for good, as long as we use the right ones, in the right ways.
In honour of World Mental Health Day, this episode of RBC Disruptors delves into the potential risks and rewards of our growing dependence on technology during the pandemic. Host John Stackhouse sits down with two leaders in the field of youth mental health; Doctor Joanna Henderson, clinical psychologist, and director at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, and Doctor Yuri Quintana, the Chief of the Division of Clinical Informatics at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He also hears from Shauna MacEachern, the executive director of Frayme, which leads a global network that connects young people with mental health and social services here in Canada and around the world.
Together, they discuss the explosion in the number of health and wellness apps that are available, how those apps can and should be evaluated for effectiveness, and what else needs to happen in order to break down barriers to accessing mental health services in Canada. You’ll also hear about the importance of collaborating with youth, and involving them in the development process, in order to ensure their needs are being met by a system that has historically failed to do so.
To learn more about the organizations mentioned in this episode, and the important work they’re doing, you can visit their websites:
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Homewood Research Institute
Frayme: Youth Mental Health Resources
You can read the announcement about RBC’s partnership with HRI to study the effectiveness of mental health apps HERE.
If you or someone you know is in need of mental health support, help is available. Visit the Government of Canada’s
Mental Health Support page for links and phone numbers.