Conference tackles teen mental health


Mental health is dependent on deep connections – which must be maintained through the tumultuous teenage years – a child psychiatrist told more than 500 parents during a luncheon on Tuesday.

“When teens need something, you may not know. How was your day? ‘Fine.’ Stomp, stomp, stomp,” said Dr. Michael Cheng from CHEO.

The event, put on by Do It For Daron and The Royal Ottawa Hospital was held at the Centurion Convention Centre.

Panelists tackled a range of youth issues, namely depression and suicide.

As kids get older, child-parent attachments weaken and teens may turn to peers or alcohol, drugs, self-mutilation, or technology.

“These things can never meet a child’s emotional needs,” he said.

One-on-one time with parents is “crucial.”

Most suicidal youth are willing to talk about their thoughts when asked, said Dr. Martine Flament from The Royal.

Terri, a mother of three boys, one of whom is bipolar, found the event “very helpful.”

“I find learning about empathy, you forget,” she said.

With her 23-year-old son, “it’s like, OK time to get a job, enough of this. And I have to take a step back and think, OK no, he does have a mental health illness and yeah, maybe I do have to coddle him a bit more,” she said.

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