| OTTAWA , February 9, 2016 – The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) is thrilled to launch MindMasters 2 – a free toolkit to help school-age children manage their emotions and develop skills to cope with life’s daily stressors.
MindMasters 2 is a bilingual, evidence-informed resource that parents, caregivers and educators can use to teach children positive mental health and resiliency skills. It uses fun activities to teach positive thinking, stress control, relaxation and mindfulness. The toolkit builds on the original MindMasters – first released in 2000 – by combining new techniques and technology to meet the needs of today’s children.
Designed for children ages 4 to 9, MindMasters 2 is available free online, including videos, audio tracks, interactive activities, worksheets and more. It can be used in various settings including schools, community programs and homes. Since connection with a caring adult is a strong factor in children’s resiliency, MindMasters is designed for the child and adult to use together.
“MindMasters is a great preventative resource,” says Dr. Phil Ritchie, a psychologist at CHEO. “It’s important that children learn positive coping skills as early as possible, and MindMasters prepares them for handling the challenges they will meet now and later in life.”
“Childhood is a critical time for helping children with their mental health, as studies show that stressed, unhappy children are at high risk of becoming stressed, unhappy adults,” says Dr. Michael Cheng, a psychiatrist at CHEO. “MindMasters 2 offers a solution.”
Every day, schools see the importance of teaching children how to cope with feelings like anger, frustration or isolation. Hundreds of teachers, social workers and learning support staff have been trained in the MindMasters approach, and MindMasters 2 has already been successfully piloted in a number of local schools and organizations.
“After using MindMasters 2 with my students, I noticed a huge difference in how they deal with emotions,” says Janis St. Germain, a grade 2 teacher at Berrigan Elementary School in Nepean. “When my kids start getting agitated or frustrated, I am able to prompt them to use one of the strategies or activities and it helps them calm down and focus. MindMasters 2 gives us a common language to deal with these situations.”
The skills and concepts taught in MindMasters 2 link with the Ontario classroom curriculum. The activities help children recognize sources of stress, practice coping methods and build healthy relationships, while learning healthy communication, problem solving and positive thinking skills.
MindMasters 2 includes eleven activities which take 3 to 5 minutes to complete, each with an audio or video component. They can be done in any order and can be simplified or made more challenging to meet the needs and skills of each child.
For example, in “Animal Yoga,” kids watch a video and follow along with children doing kid-friendly yoga poses. This teaches them how to relax and use mindfulness techniques. In one of the videos, a child adapts the pose to chair yoga, showing how the activity can be tailored to different abilities.
An estimated one in five children in Ontario experiences a mental health issue that severely affects their daily functioning. The MindMasters approach has been evaluated in over seventeen research studies, which have demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing stress and improving children’s coping skills.
The need for mental health resources for children and youth continues to grow. CHEO has seen a 75% increase in mental health Emergency visits since 2010. In October 2015, CHEO and The Royal launched a five-year strategic plan – called the Young Minds Partnership – to tackle these issues and improve access to mental health care.
MindMasters 2 was created by CHEO and the Child and Youth Health Network for Eastern Ontario (CYHNEO), in collaboration with a number of community partners. Visit www.cyhneo.ca to download MindMasters 2 resources for free, or to order a copy of the booklet for $17.
CHEO is one of the largest providers of child and youth mental health services in Ontario. It offers a broad range of both hospital and community-based services for children and youth (ages 0-18) and their families – spanning prevention and early intervention to more intensive diagnostic and treatment services. CHEO is also home to internationally-recognized researchers in the field of mental health, eating disorders and outcomes management. Their research has helped shape clinical programs at CHEO and beyond.
ABOUT CYHNEOCYHNEO, spearheaded by CHEO, is committed to helping children and youth grow up healthy, confident, and secure. It operates as a network to bring together individuals and organizations to accomplish goals that could not be accomplished alone. The network facilitates integration and collaboration and acts on opportunities for improvement in our community. CYHNEO has a number of working groups on a variety of vital issues for the children and youth of Eastern Ontario.
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