When your child may need extra help

When your child may need extra help

In some cases, your pediatric rheumatology team may suggest additional programs or resources to support your child and their mental health. It is important to note that the programs and resources listed below can vary widely by location. Some may be located at a children’s hospital or within the community, and some may have wait lists for access.  

  • Child Life programs: Patients and families can receive support from certified child life specialists who are trained to help children navigate the impacts of their illness. Certified child life specialists are professionals educated and clinically trained in the developmental impact of illness and injury. They can help improve patient and family care as well as the overall patient healthcare experience. 

  • Mom and her daughter talking with a doctorPediatric Chronic Pain Programs: These programs provide assessment, treatment and consultation for children and teenagers who experience persistent pain that interferes with their daily activities. Youth and their families/caregivers learn skills and receive support so that they can return to doing the things that are important to them. The following resource provides a list of chronic pain clinics in Canada: Pediatric Chronic Pain Programs 2021. Most clinics will require a referral, so speak to your child’s doctor first before contacting a clinic directly. 

  • Adolescent Medicine: Developmentally appropriate care can be accessed by youth and families through adolescent medicine departments at certain hospitals. They can address the unique needs presented during this age range. 

  • Child and adolescent psychologist: A child and adolescent psychologist focuses on the behaviour and development of children and teens to help them address any mental, emotional or social issues. They can conduct assessments and evaluations to make a diagnosis as well as help parents/caregivers better understand child psychology and their child’s behaviour. A child and adolescent psychologist works directly with children and their families to treat behavioural problems, improve self-esteem, and address communication difficulties. Psychologists can also provide education on how anxiety, mood, thoughts about physical symptoms and behaviours can contribute to the physical symptoms themselves. These mental health specialists consider the basic psychological needs of young people and how family, social contexts and health problems can influence adjustment.   

  • Child and adolescent psychiatrist: A child and adolescent psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of behavioural, emotional, developmental or mental health disorders in children and youth. They provide support to children and their families to help them cope with psychological problems, managing a chronic disease, relationship problems, or stress. A child and adolescent psychiatrist can evaluate your child’s mental health, diagnose and treat mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and other conditions, as well as prescribe medication if needed. They are the only mental health professionals who are able to prescribe medication.  

  • Transition Clinics: These specialized clinics provide support for youth who are transitioning from pediatric to adult healthcare and services. Feeling prepared to take control of one’s own healthcare can help reduce anxiety and fear as youth take on greater responsibility for their health. The switch from pediatric to adult care can be overwhelming for some young people and the increased stress can lead to worsening symptoms. Transition clinics aim to help young adults acquire the skills needed to manage their own health and navigate the healthcare system with confidence.