Rapid evidence and gap map of virtual care solutions for youth and families to mitigate the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on pain, mental health, and substance use
The COVID‑19 pandemic is incredibly stressful, and will impact the mental and physical health of youth for the rest of their lives. Pain is one of the most common symptoms that youth experience when dealing with stressful events. Early information suggests that youth are experiencing more pain, like headaches and stomach aches, during the COVID‑19 pandemic. This is important because pain contributes to worse mental health now and in the future. At least two million Canadian youth already have pain that lasts months to years (also called chronic pain). Youth who live with chronic pain are more likely than their peers to be anxious, depressed, have traumatic stress, and trouble sleeping. They are also more likely to continue to have pain, mental health problems, and misuse drugs as adults. We need to treat pain now to prevent lifelong issues for our youth. One of the major challenges of the COVID‑19 pandemic is that many healthcare services are seeing fewer youth or have stopped treating them altogether. Overnight, it has become necessary to deliver medical and mental health care virtually (like using apps, websites, or therapy over video call). The goal of our project is to find out the best ways to delivery virtual care for youth who are dealing with pain and mental health concerns, and their families. We will find the answers by looking at the scientific research and by asking about any new ways healthcare services are being delivered virtually since the COVID‑19 pandemic started. Our goal is to identify a range of virtual care options, including some that are good for all youth, and some that are best for youth needing more intensive mental and physical care. We will share this information widely in reports, on social media, and webinars so that the public, youth, families, healthcare providers, and government policymakers can make the best decisions to treat pain and prevent mental health problems in youth during the COVID‑19 pandemic and in the future.