SFU Canada Research Chairs Seminar Series: "Advancing Population Health in Canada: What We Can Learn from Children's Mental Health"

Thursday, April 8, 2010
11:30 - 12:30

Dr. Charlotte Waddell
Canada Research Chair in Children's Health Policy, Faculty Of Health Science


Children's mental health presents a striking illustration of the need to advance population health ideas in public policy-making more generally. At any given time, 14% of children (or an estimated 800,000 in Canada) experience mental disorders that cause significant distress and impairment and reduce their educational and employment chances throughout the lifespan. Despite Canada's substantial investments in healthcare, fewer than 25% of these children receive appropriate services. Meanwhile, few public programs address the upstream causes of mental health problems early in life, leaving children vulnerable to the downstream consequences of mental disorders later in life. Yet there is increasingly persuasive evidence for programs that can prevent the most common mental health problems in childhood, including depression, anxiety and antisocial behaviour. Children's mental health is not unique in this regard, but it does provide a particularly stark example of the challenges in shifting public priorities towards policies and programs with the potential to improve the health and wellbeing of the whole population. This talk will describe a research program that is exploring these challenges in order to advance population health ideas. Located at the intersection of three fields (children's mental health, population health and health policy), this program has three overarching goals: (1) evaluating existing public investments in children's mental health; (2) improving the evidence base for population health interventions to inform policy-making; (3) exploring how policy-makers, researchers and others can make better collective ethical judgments on behalf of children and the population.

About the Speaker

Charlotte Waddell is a child psychiatrist with longstanding interests in health policy and population and public health. She holds the Canada Research Chair in children's health policy in the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU, where she is also Associate Professor and Director of the Children's Health Policy Centre. Charlotte's research addresses mental health disparities, starting in childhood, by improving the connections between research and policy. As a child psychiatrist, Charlotte also continues to work with children involved with the child protection and youth justice systems. It is working with these children that ultimately informs and inspires her research and teaching. To learn more about the Children's Health Policy Centre, please visit www.childhealthpolicy.sfu.ca.