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About Sickkids
About SickKids

April 10, 2014

Helping Kids Cope with Anxiety and Depression

Talk about your anxiety problems, ask for help, don’t do it alone. This was Kendra Fisher’s advice to children and youth at the symposium “Helping Kids Cope with Anxiety and Depression” at the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning on April 5.

Fisher was a keynote speaker at the event, which was fully subscribed three weeks in advance and had a waiting list of 50. Organized by the SickKids Learning Institute with the support of the John Law Memorial Fund, the symposium was open to families, whether or not they have children in the care of SickKids.

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Dr. Jonathan Kronick, Chief of Education, welcomes participants to “Helping Kids Cope with Anxiety and Depression” April 5 at the Gilgan Centre.

The day was a great success and another similar event may well be offered in the future, said Dr. Jonathan Kronick, Chief of Education.

Fisher told the audience about her journey with anxiety – from a high-performing athlete on her way to becoming goalie for the Canadian Olympic hockey team, to a fearful recluse in denial, and now, with the help of lifestyle changes and medication, a dynamic champion for greater awareness and dialogue about mental health. Her speech drew a standing ovation.

One member of the audience asked if Fisher knew what brought on her depression. She mentioned several possibilities: a car accident, her mother’s career as a public figure, a family history of mental illness. However, she knows now that to prevent another bout of depression she must remain physically active, get enough sleep, and eat properly and continue to take her medication regularly.

“We can live with anxiety and depression,” Fisher said. “You should know that if you are sick there is help available. I am grateful to be part of this important discussion today.”

See Kendra Fisher’s website.

Other speakers included Dr. Suneeta Monga, Director of Undergraduate Medical Education for the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, who started the day with a talk about how to recognize and understand the symptoms of an anxiety disorder in children and adolescents. Next, Dr. Daphne Korczak, Head of the Inpatient Psychiatry and Day Treatment programs, described the nature of depression. A mother and her 16-year-old daughter shared their story about the girl’s descent into depression and her family’s support as she sought treatment. They now understand that depression is a disease like any other, diabetes for example, the mother said.

In afternoon breakout sessions, participants heard about such topics as advocating for mental health and navigating the system, medications and non-medicinal treatments, and drugs and alcohol. They discussed the different roles of the parent/caregiver, health-care provider, teacher, and child-care provider.

The following organizations were exhibitors, offering resources and help for participants:

Healthy Minds Canada
Sashbear Foundation
Kinder Minds
The Jack Project
Centre for Brain & Mental Health
Canadian Family Advisory Network