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Mental health needs of war-affected children

August 14, 2014

The Ontario government has announced that it will undertake a collaborative approach to ensure that provincial hospitals have the capacity to support injured children, whether Palestinian or Israeli, who are victims of the current crisis in the Middle East.

The full statement from Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care is available on the Government of Ontario website.

With experts estimating that four hundred children have died in the Gaza conflict and 2,500 have been injured, several major provincial hospital leaders have stated that they are ready to provide care to children who have been seriously injured.

The government’s announcement also raises an important issue. And that is medical care should also take into account the psychological trauma of war, which includes depression, anxiety, crippling grief and post-traumatic stress disorder. Social support, community connections, caregiver health and attachment relationships are all important factors that promote resiliency in children. Children should have access to mental health service providers who are culturally sensitive and can help them cope and come to terms with the tragic experience of war.

CMHA works to ensure that children experiencing trauma will receive the care they need through our branches across the province, which help link families to the appropriate resources and services. In addition, CMHA Ontario is developing an online repository of existing training resources for frontline workers who provide services to children and youth with complex mental health needs. Funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS), the CMHA Ontario-MCYS Integrated Training Project is designed to help increase the capacity of those frontline workers in order to enhance services to clients throughout the province.

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