Improving Mental Health And Reducing Service Gaps for Children and Youth

Dr. Kathy Georgiades smiles for a photo.

An alarming number of children and youth in Canada are struggling with challenges related to mental health, and Dr. Kathy Georgiades is aiming to improve their outcomes.

Dr. Georgiades holds the David R. (Dan) Offord Chair in Child Studies. Supported by donations to Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation, the Chair was established in 2005 to fund a world-class research program focused on child and youth mental health.

“Mental disorders are now the leading cause of childhood disability globally,” explains Dr. Georgiades. “Yet, access to timely and effective care is lacking.”

As the Chairholder, Dr. Georgiades and her team at the Offord Centre for Child Studies are using innovative methods to monitor children’s mental health and access to services.

“Our ultimate goal is to establish the necessary capacity and infrastructure to use population-level data, which will enable us to evaluate programs and strategies designed to improve children’s mental health and reduce service gaps.”

Research in action

To help achieve this goal, Dr. Georgiades launched several landmark studies. She was the co-lead on the Ontario Child Health Study and the School Mental Health Surveys, which were among the largest studies of their kind in Canada.

“I am deeply grateful to the donors who have provided me such opportunities through the David R. (Dan) Offord Chair in Child Studies.”

A third notable study, The Hamilton Youth Study, was the first of its kind to focus on documenting the mental-health needs of children from immigrant and refugee populations living in Hamilton, Ontario.

“Our studies revealed that 18 to 22 per cent of children and youth have a mental disorder, but less than one-third of them have contact with a mental-health provider,” says Dr. Georgiades. “Applied to our total population, this translates into more than one-million Canadian children and youth struggling at any given time.”

Her research also revealed service gaps that disproportionately affect female adolescents, children with mood and/or anxiety disorders, and those from immigrant and refugee families – all of whom are less likely to receive needed mental-health care.

Informing new policies

The findings from these studies are enabling Dr. Georgiades to work directly with policy partners and community leaders in the education and mental-health sectors to translate key research findings into actionable policies and practices. This will make a vital difference in caring for children and youth with mental-health concerns in Ontario and beyond.

“I am committed to continuing Dr. Offord’s legacy of improving child and youth mental health and reducing inequities in access to services,” explains Dr. Georgiades. “I am deeply grateful to the donors who have provided me such opportunities through the David R. (Dan) Offord Chair in Child Studies.”