Children and teens experiencing anxiety and stress because of the COVID-19 pandemic will have access to new digital resources from Anxiety Canada. The organization was granted $555,000 to develop resources as part of a partnership with the province.
“The mental health of many children, youth, families and caregivers took a hit in the pandemic, so we are adding resources to help people deal with these challenges,” said Sheila Malcolmson, minister of mental health and addictions. “I am grateful for Anxiety Canada’s commitment to helping young people before, during and after the pandemic.”
Anxiety Canada will use the funding to create a number of resources designed to reach children and teens in communities throughout the province. One focus will be to develop the Behind the Mask campaign, a province-wide mental health literacy video series, specifically informed by children and teens about their struggles with anxiety during the pandemic.
The videos will build awareness and understanding about anxiety and its impact and provide information and tools to manage anxiety, according to the province.
B.C. based animators will produce the videos and develop them with support from Charlie Demers, a nationally recognized voice actor and comedian who lives with anxiety.
“As a six-year-old boy, I remember having to wear a paper mask when I visited my mom at Vancouver General Hospital and I’ve always felt this experience deeply impacted my disproportionate fears of contaminating others later in life,” Demers said. “When face masks became a very necessary part of all our children’s lives in 2020, I knew that without the resources to guide them out the other side of the pandemic, thousands more kids could be permanently left with similarly, very painfully skewed perspectives. I thought I could contribute in some small way to preventing some of this suffering.”
This funding also supports the continued distribution of digital and print resources on anxiety and anxiety disorders for children and teens, as well as panel discussions and podcast interviews to further connect people and facilitate important conversation.
The Behind the Mask mental health literacy campaign will be promoted with child and youth mental health stakeholders, Indigenous partners, professionals, people with lived experience and the province.
“Humour helps us to see things from multiple perspectives, to grasp unconventional ideas or ways of thinking and to provide us with opportunities to laugh and reflect on uncomfortable topics,” said Judith Law, chief executive officer at Anxiety Canada.
“Laughter is good medicine. We are thankful to the province for its investment into these new resources. Because of our decades-long focus on building awareness and tools about anxiety and anxiety disorders, we are excited to develop and deliver this series.’’