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Through the 13 Children’s Hospital Foundations that we’ve partnered with, Family of Support is positively impacting the lives of kids across the country. Below you’ll discover stories from kids and families who have benefitted from early access to innovative mental health programs, and the difference it has made in their lives. You can also find testimonials from medical teams on how Family of Support is making a big impact in the important work they lead at their local children’s hospital.


IWK Foundation

In early 2022, the Beazley family was celebrating the completion of then 12-year-old Canon’s cancer treatment. However, this celebration was short-lived as Canon, while physically healthy, began experiencing panic attacks. He was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) stemming from his cancer experience. Canon began regularly scheduled therapy sessions with the IWK’s mental health team and medication to manage his anxiety. His family immediately noticed a big change. He became more present, able to function and could actively participate in his therapy. Thanks to this support Canon is back to being a kid and enjoying the activities he loves.

“Similar to Canon's cancer, his mental health condition was insidious and unexpected. We were at a loss as to what to do, but thankfully the team at the IWK was able to unpack, diagnose and successfully treat the problem. He's back to his former self, thriving at every level. We couldn't be happier or more appreciative for his care.”
Dan & Shelly Beazley, Canon’s parents



Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation

Taylor began struggling with her mental health in junior high when constant bullying from classmates led her to try to take her own life. Thankfully she received help at the Alberta Children’s Hospital’s mental health unit where she received a diagnosis of anxiety and depression and learned techniques to help her manage her mental health. The support she received and gratitude she has for her mental health team at the hospital has compelled Taylor to share her story to offer hope to other young people walking the same path as her own.

“Over this last decade, I’ve learned so much about myself and I’ve worked so hard to get to the place I’m at. It hasn’t been easy. There have been good days and bad days, good seasons and bad seasons. However, I respect my own mental capacity and own emotional wellbeing. There was a time when I feared the future so deeply, I didn’t want to live. Now, thanks to the help I received at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, I am excited for what tomorrow brings.”
Taylor, now 22


The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation

Chloé* was only 7 when she started to have disordered eating. At first, the symptoms were subtle but, during the pandemic, her eating habits took a turn for the worse. Unbeknownst to her family, Chloé, who was by then 9, stopped eating altogether. Within three weeks, she lost 8 kgs and her weight plummeted to a mere 28 kgs. At the start of Family Based Treatment it took six hours of urging, cajoling, and reassuring to get Chloé to just eat 6 pieces of tortellini. It took two long years before Chloé overcame her eating disorder, but for the past six months, Chloé, now 11, has been doing well. She is at a healthy weight. She is smiling again and eating like a regular kid.

“Funding means we can add more therapy hours to the eating disorders program, therefore reducing waiting times and allowing more young patients to receive front-line treatment.”
Dr. Holly Agostino, Director of the Eating Disorders Program at The Montreal Children’s Hospital
*Patient has requested their name be changed


McMaster Children's Hospital Foundation

Kaden wasn’t even in middle school when a heavy and inexplicable sadness started to settle over them. Insomnia and hallucinations followed and Kaden, who had always been bubbly and outgoing, started to turn inwards. A visit to the family doctor alerted Kaden’s parents to the true depths of their child’s inner distress and began what has been an ongoing journey of healing and hard work.

Today, Kaden and their family are hopeful. While Kaden, who is now 16, still deals with mental health challenges, the child and youth mental health programs at McMaster Children’s Hospital has helped them and their family feel safe and supported, and has empowered them with healthy coping strategies to manage symptoms and respond to crises.

“Living with mental illness is very, very difficult for a child and their family, and can be quite disabling if it's not treated early. With a family approach, we do that. I feel privileged to be able to offer such high quality care to help children get as well as they can.”
Dr. Khrista Boylan, McMaster Children’s Hospital

Dr Julia Young
Dr julia young

Dr. Julia Young

The Hospital for Sick Children

For the neuropsychology team at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), the biggest concern right now is being able to shorten wait times so they can see more patients. When it comes to helping young people, there are developmental windows where, if provided with the right support at the right time, they can be set up for long-term success. The team never wants to risk missing this window, as the consequences can be significant. With the help of Family of Support, SickKids’ neuropsychology team will be able to build up their capacity and connect more kids & youth with the right supports. As with all our partner hospitals, Family of Support is ensuring SickKids can make progress towards this goal of faster access.

“Timely intervention is always important in medical care, but when it comes to developing brains, timing is everything…We know we can offer meaningful help once we’re able to assess young people and connect them with resources – it’s our waiting list that keeps us up at night. ”
Dr. Julia Young, part of the neuropsychology team at SickKids


McMaster Children’s Hospital

The I AM SAFE intervention is a clinical trial currently underway at McMaster Children’s Hospital and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) with plans to launch at the Alberta Children’s Hospital soon. The program highlights the importance of communication with young people and provides follow-up support to those young people who have come to the hospital because of suicidal ideation or an attempt. While it may seem strange to describe I AM SAFE as a prevention program, the follow-up support offered through I AM SAFE is designed for prevention. We have therapists work with patients and families to build the tools to prevent further deterioration and/ or a recurrence of the patient’s mental health crisis. Family of Support has been helping fuel I AM SAFE for the past three years, giving our clinicians the opportunities to deliver promising intervention while strengthening collaborative research relationships across the network of 13 Canadian Children’s hospitals.

“The privilege of taking on the role of the I AM SAFE research therapist has helped me to see – firsthand – the importance of working on communication between the youth and family immediately after discharge. By identifying and working on communication deficits immediately at the start of the program, I have been able to help families work through these barriers. ”
Christina Carr, I AM SAFE intervention therapist, McMaster Children’s Hospital

Christina Carr
Tracy Palmquist
Tracy Palmquist

Tracy Palmquist

Alberta Health Services

Few would argue that early intervention is not an important goal in child and youth mental health. But, it can be difficult for prevention-oriented initiatives to attract attention and support when so much of the mental health space is focused on crisis intervention - whose impact is so clear and can be life-saving. All that said, the pandemic gave us a glimpse of what the world could look like without prevention.

Over the past three years, Family of Support’s investments in prevention and early intervention – including through the dissemination of mental health training and knowledge – have been building exactly the capacities that the COVID-19 pandemic stripped away. Now more than ever, we need to support our institutions working to be better at noticing, identifying and responding to mental health challenges.

“For close to two years, almost no one connected to public systems regularly had eyes on kids. Because of the Family of Support initiative, hospitals and communities are becoming better equipped to notice, identify and respond to early manifestations of mental health challenges – a practice whose value has never been more clear”
Tracy Palmquist, Director, Children, Youth & Families, Addiction & Mental Health at Alberta Health Services