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
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
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
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