Mental Health

Children and Mental Health

Your child's mental health needs the same professional attention as their physical health needs. Children's Mental Health Ontario tells us that more than 500,000 young children in Ontario, or 1 in 5 - have mental health problems.

It is important to listen to your child and trust your instincts. Parents are in the best position to see changes in their child's behaviour. Changes may be subtle. 

What to look for:

  • Change in behaviour, appetite or mood
  • Physical symptoms like stomach aches and headaches
  • Low energy and not sleeping well
  • Major change in school work, focus and performance
  • Missing school, unable to focus or remember things
  • Does not want to spend time with friends and family
  • Does not want to do things they usually enjoy

What can parents do?

  • Keep communication open. Good relationships between parents and children create more positive feelings.
  • Help your child keep close friendships with other children, they need time to play.
  • Suggest nice and calming activities before bedtime (reading a book, taking a bath) and avoid TV and computer games.
  • Spend quality time with your child. Children often talk about a problem when they are asked and when they have your full attention.
  • Talk about your concerns with your child's teacher. They may have noticed changes in your child's behaviour while at school.
  • Focus on aspects self-care that promote good mental health - healthy eating, staying active, sleep.
  • Helping children and teens cope with stressful public eventsLimit screen time. News images can be scary and confusing and should not be watched over and over. If you plan to watch the news, do it together and turn off the television when you are done so you can talk about what is going on.

Learn more about:

You know your child better than anyone else. Talk to your family doctor about any concerns that you may have. It is ok to ask for help.

Mental Health Community Resources

Helpful Mental Health web links

Do you have more questions about parenting?

  • Connect with a registered nurse from Health811 for free, secure, and confidential health advice. Service is available 24/7 in English and French, with translation support also offered in other languages. Call 8-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with a Community Navigator from 2-1-1 for information about community programs and resources across Eastern Ontario. Helpline service is available 24/7 and in many different languages. Call 2-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with other parents on the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page.
  • There are a variety of services to make it easier for your child to grow up healthy in Ottawa.
  • You can update your child's immunization record using either the CANImmunize App or the Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) Tool
  • If you have received a message from Ottawa Public Health such as a letter or a call regarding immunization, an infectious disease, or infection control lapse, please call 613-580-6744 and listen to the menu options carefully.

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