A narrative inquiry study into the impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic on the experiences of children and youth waiting for mental health services
The mental health of children and youth in Canada has been greatly impacted by the COVID‑19 pandemic. The COVID‑19 pandemic worsens existing mental health symptoms among children and youth as well as leads to new mental health issues due to prolonged isolation, illness in the home, fear of infection, school closure, familial financial loss, disruption of routine, and uncertainty of the future. Children and youth may also be affected by exposure to domestic violence, child maltreatment, lack of free school meals, decreased access to social and academic school supports, housing and overcrowding concerns, and a significant change to social networks. Public health restrictions have erased access and involvement with community activities and adult supports outside of the home that often serve as protective factors and help young people to cope with mental health issues. Unfortunately, COVID‑19 has worsened the urgent need for child and youth mental health services that already existed in Canada before the pandemic. The results of “waiting” for care and treatment can be devastating resulting in early school leaving, involvement with the youth justice system, bullying, trauma, substance use, economic burdens and suicide. This research study will explore 1) the experiences of children and youth who are waiting for mental health services during the COVID‑19 pandemic; 2) identify resources, strategies and supports used by children and youth while waiting for mental health services during the COVID‑19 pandemic; 3) strengthen the current child an youth mental health care system in Canada though providing knowledge of innovative resources, strategies and supports for children and youth that can be utilized to help children/youth while the wait for formalized mental health mental health treatment during and after the COVID‑19 pandemic.