BC Government: More parents, kids to get help from free mental health service

March 29, 2019

VICTORIA – Parents and caregivers in B.C. whose children have anxiety impacting their development and day-to-day happiness at home, school and in the community will soon have access to a new, free intervention program.

The program includes access to educational videos and weekly telephone coaching sessions and will be available starting April 29, 2019.

Serving parents and caregivers of children aged three to 12 years, the Anxiety Program — a new offering under the existing Confident Parents: Thriving Kids service — is designed to reduce the impact of anxiety on a child. It was developed locally by the Canadian Mental Health Association-BC Division (CMHA BC), in partnership with B.C. psychologists who specialize in child and youth mental health.

“Today’s announcement is excellent news for families in B.C. that require mental health support for their children,” said Ginette Petitpas Taylor, federal Minister of Health. “Improving access to home and community care and mental health and addiction services is one of the ways in which collaboration between the governments of Canada and B.C. is helping to make lives better for B.C. residents.”

New office space on View Street in downtown Victoria will house the team that is delivering the online and telephone-based program. In the first phase, a total of 14 of 20 coaches have been hired and are completing orientation and training.

“For parents, knowing how to manage their child’s anxious behaviour can become a challenge. With today’s investment, parents now have somewhere to turn for the support they need,” said Judy Darcy, B.C.’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Expanding this successful service is so important because we know that the sooner we address mental-health and behaviour challenges, the better it is for the entire family.”

In addition, to meet the needs of Indigenous families, CMHA BC is working with Indigenous peoples and organizations to develop a culturally sensitive and appropriate model for this program, which is expected to launch in fall 2019.

The new Anxiety Program builds on the success of the existing Behaviour Program that parents and caregivers rate highly in terms of effectiveness.

“Previously, CMHA BC was relying on year-end funding for Confident Parents: Thriving Kids, and that meant that families never had a guarantee that these services would be available year over year,” said Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s Minister of Children and Family Development. “We believe these programs are vital and that’s why, for the first time ever, government is providing annual funding.”

The Behaviour Program, which parents and caregivers have accessed since 2015, includes a series of six to 14 weekly telephone-coaching sessions in a flexible format, using exercises and workbooks. Trained coaches empower parents and caregivers to learn effective skills and techniques that are proven to prevent, reduce and reverse the development of mild to moderate behaviour difficulties — including aggression, attention deficit or unco-operative or disruptive behaviour — that create challenges in home, school and public settings.

Parents can access both programs at times that work for them, such as evenings and weekends. A referral from general physicians, pediatricians or Ministry of Children and Family Development community child and youth mental-health teams is required.

The total $5.75-million investment — $3 million for the Anxiety Program and $2.75 million for the Behaviour Program — is part of a five-year, $656-million bilateral agreement announced in September 2018 between the Government of Canada and the Province of B.C. The agreement features targeted incremental investments to expand home and community care, and mental-health and addiction services.


Bev Gutray, CEO of CMHA BC —

“CMHA BC is pleased to be able to offer both of these programs throughout B.C. and serve families regardless of whether they live in a rural/remote community or a large urban centre. By assisting parents to support their children’s mental health early in life, we enhance their ability to thrive across the lifespan.”

Tiffany Samson, parent —

“Before we took the Confident Parents: Thriving Kids Behaviour Program, I was overwhelmed. I felt like I wasn’t equipped, I didn’t have the tools to deal with our daughter’s behaviour, and I just felt like I was really struggling. After completing the program, I felt confident as a parent.”

Kate Longpre, parent —

“As a parent, I want to learn the skills and strategies to support my child to manage their anxiety. With the Confident Parents: Thriving Kids Anxiety Program, I can learn these skills at no cost – from my home – supported by a trained coach.”

Quick Facts:

  • Of parents or caregivers who have completed the Confident Parents: Thriving Kids program since 2015, 85% reported good or very good improvement in their child’s behaviour.
  • While 50-70% of mental illnesses show up before the age of 18 years, only about one in four kids and teens in Canada who need mental health treatment get it.
  • While 4% of children and youth aged 4-17 would meet diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder at any given time, the percentage of children with mild to moderate anxiety conditions is understood to be much higher.
  • Anxiety conditions are characterized by apprehension, fear, bodily symptoms and avoidance behaviour that impairs normal functioning.
  • While it is not unusual for children to have behaviour-related problems at some time, conduct disorder is a persistent set of behaviours that violate the rights of others, goes against accepted norms of behaviour and disrupts the child’s or family’s everyday life.
  • Since 2015, more than 3,200 families have been helped by the Behaviour Program.
  • Once fully staffed, it is estimated that the Confident Parents: Thriving Kids Anxiety Program will serve 2,400 B.C. families annually.
  • In 2017-18, 1,277 families were referred to Confident Parents: Thriving Kids by 512 primary health-care providers from over 70 communities in every region of the province.
  • Parent ratings indicate very positive outcomes with 78.8% of participants falling in the categories of “fully resolved” (55.5%) or “significant improvement” (23.2%).
  • Parent satisfaction with the program is very high, with 93% of parents rating the program’s quality as “excellent” or “very good.”

Learn More:

Watch a video about the Confident Parents: Thriving Kids Programs: https://youtu.be/ku2PBUboCro

Get information about Confident Parents: Thriving Kids at: http://confidentparentsbc.ca

Visit the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s public portal to learn more about child and youth mental health case trends and data: https://mcfd.gov.bc.ca/reporting/services/child-and-youth-mental-health/case-data-and-trends

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions
Government Communications and Public Engagement
250 208-8438
Ministry of Children and Family Development
Government Communications and Public Engagement
250 356-1553


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