Ontario Healthy Kids Panel Touches on Mental Health and Resilience

sharma-obesity-depression-teenager2Moving beyond its expected focus on food and physical activity, I certainly find it refreshing that the Ontario Healthy Kids Panel’s report No Time to Wait: The Healthy Kids Strategy released yesterday, also touches on the issue of childhood mental health.

Thus, the authors do make the point that,

“Children and youth who enjoy good mental health respond better to life’s challenges and make healthier choices. We can foster children’s resilience by focusing on positive relationships, experiences and inner strengths such as values, skills and commitments. We can create a strong sense of belonging at home, in school and in communities; build on children’s strengths and competency; and encourage their autonomy and ability to make decisions that will enhance their health and well-being.”

They also include the following in their recommendations,

“Because of the strong links between mental health problems and unhealthy weights, the Healthy Kids Strategy should work closely with the province’s Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, focusing particularly on helping children develop the confidence, self-esteem, resilience and coping skills that will improve their mental health and empower them to make healthy choices throughout their lives. Youth should be actively involved in planning and implementing these strategies.”

Regular readers will certainly appreciate that I have always championed the notion that obesity and mental health are two sides of the same co-epidemic and that strategies to address the root cause of either of these problems will hopefully help address the other.

Readers may well recall that last year, the Canadian Obesity Network together with a number of partners released the Toronto Charter on Obesity and Mental Health – hopefully elements form this charter will find their way to decision makers as they decide which of the panel recommendations to focus on.

I, for one, have no doubt that attention to mental health and resilience (in both the parents and their kids) will be a key determinant of the success of this strategy.

Edmonton, AB