Canadian parents concerned but complacent about children's
mental health: RBC survey
TORONTO, October 4, 2010 Children's mental
health issues are on the minds of a majority of Canadian parents
(54 per cent), with one-in-ten (11 per cent) considering themselves
very knowledgeable about the topic, according to a new survey
on children's mental health released today by RBC. The survey
also found that one-in-five (22 per cent) Canadian parents
are concerned about a mental health-related issue with one
of their own children.
"As parents, we're quick to take action if our child
breaks a limb or has a physical illness. We know what to do
and where to go for information. However, it's a different
story altogether when a child has a mental illness,"
said Jamie Anderson, deputy chair of RBC Capital Markets and
executive champion of the RBC Children's Mental Health Project.
"There's no definitive guide to help parents who are
struggling with kids' mental health issues and there is no
other illness that we try to treat by hoping it will go away
With 20 per cent of Canadians experiencing mental illness
during their lifetime, many disorders begin in childhood or
adolescence. If the signs of mental illness are recognized
early and appropriate interventions are taken, children have
a much greater chance to grow up to lead happy, productive
The findings are part of an Ipsos Reid survey commissioned
by the RBC Children's Mental Heath Project, a multi-year philanthropic
commitment to support community-based and hospital programs
that reduce stigma, provide early intervention and increase
public awareness about children's mental health issues.
Canadian parents also face a lack of a definitive source
of information on children's mental health issues. The survey
revealed that for respondents who have a child who has been
diagnosed with or has shown signs of a mental illness, the
majority (54 per cent) agree that it is "terrible"
trying to navigate the health and social services sector for
help and information. Of this group, four-in-ten say they
are frustrated that there is no single place to get information
on children's mental health.
While parents expressed frustration about access to credible
information, more than two-third of respondents (69 per cent)
agreed that it is important to be able to obtain information
anonymously so that their child will not be stigmatized, creating
further challenges to facilitating early intervention.
Among those who have sought information, doctors (82 per
cent) and the internet (79 per cent) were the two main sources
to which these parents turned. However, the internet dropped
drastically in the ranking, to only 19 per cent, when the
same respondents were asked which sources they trusted the
most. Doctors (74 per cent) and health-related organizations
(69 per cent) were considered the most trusted sources. Most
Canadian parents would reach out to between three and five
sources before they feel confident about information they
"We know that for more than 70 per cent of adults living
with mental health problems, symptoms developed in childhood
or early adolescence, so it's crucial to intervene then,"
said Louise Bradley, president and CEO of the Mental Health
Commission of Canada. "Results from this important survey
will help inform policy-makers in Canada about better ways
to deliver mental health care to children and youth. The findings
show that parents can't always access the information and
services they need, and rely heavily upon their family doctors
for help. We are indeed discovering that our health care system
needs new ways to support families and physicians and we are
pleased to work alongside organizations like the RBC to shed
light on these issues as we look for solutions."
"There are a lot of good organizations in Canada providing
programs and a wealth of information about children's mental
health issues, but for parents who are in crisis and struggling
to find help, access to credible, easy-to-find resources can
be a lifesaver. That's why RBC is focused on supporting a
network of organizations that can be trusted sources of information,"
Other key findings in the survey include:
- Of parents who spend time thinking about their children's
mental health, one third (32 per cent) said either a personal
experience in their immediate family or media coverage prompted
- Respondents said the top three children's mental health
issues facing parents today are attention deficit disorders
(61 per cent), behaviour disorders (55 per cent) and depression
(41 per cent).
- Anxiety (30 per cent) was near the bottom of the list,
even though it is the most common mental health problem
facing children and youth and Canada today.
These are some of the findings of the first RBC Children's
Mental Health Project poll conducted by Ipsos Reid between
September 3 and September 13, 2010. This online survey of
2,075 Canadian parents with children aged 18 years or younger
was conducted via the Ipsos I-Say Online Panel. The results
are based on a sample where quota sampling and weighting are
employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's
composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population
according to Census data.
For more information or to apply for a grant, visit www.rbc.com/childrensmentalhealth.
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Jackie Braden, RBC Brand Communications, 416-974-1724
Dane Gergovich, MediaProfile, 416-342-1816, Dane.firstname.lastname@example.org
For full tabular results, please see the Ipsos Reid website