May 14, 2018 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

by Victoria Almeida, King's Communications and Media Relations work-study student

King’s University College welcomed parents, caregivers, and educators for the fourth annual Connecting Families to Well-Being Conference as part of Mental Health Week (May 7 – 13)

This informative event focused on understanding and providing strategies to help manage mental health in children.

The event began with keynote speaker Dr. Colin King, addressing the topic of ‘Supporting Resilience in Children and Youth’, and focused on understanding the importance and need for resilience in school-aged children. Dr. King reported that over a quarter of youth report elevated levels of stress or pressure, further showcasing the importance of progressive strategies being implemented to address children’s mental health. The focus of the keynote was on the role that resilience plays in successfully dealing with conflict. An important take away from the presentation was that resilience is not something that you are simply born with; rather, it is similar to a skill such as riding a bike or playing a sport - the more a child is able to utilize their resilience, the more resilience the child will develop.

Dr. King is the Director of Western’s Child and Youth Development Clinic, and an associate professor within Western’s Faculty of Education.

After the keynote address, guests were invited to attend their choice of 12 interactive workshops led by educators and professionals in various fields. The topics of the workshops ranged from managing anxiety and substance abuse, to mindfulness strategies.

King’s Masters of Social Work candidates Lauren Beirnes and Racheal Denman shared practical strategies and knowledge as they presented the ‘Understanding Childhood Anxiety’ workshop. This workshop explained what childhood anxiety looks like, as well as different strategies parents and caregivers can utilize to help children overcome the daily stressors of life. Techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and realistic thinking were offered as possible solutions to help aid children who are dealing with anxiety. The Social Work students were able to share personal experiences and knowledge from being in the field, which provided a unique, personal connection to the mentioned techniques and how they could be used effectively with children of all ages.

One of King’s Personal and Accessibility Counsellors, Jessica Woods, presented the workshop ‘Supporting Your Child’s Mental Health and Well-Being During the Transition to Post Secondary Education/Employment’.  This workshop was geared towards teaching helpful strategies for parents to help ease the transition to university or college for their child. The importance of communication, managing expectations, and independence were some of the highlighted strategies parents can utilize to help ease the transition for both parent and child.

The Connecting Families to Well-Being conference provided a unique opportunity for educators, parents, and community members to come together to talk about the importance of mental health and overall well-being in not only their children’s lives, but in their own lives as well. The conference allowed parents and caregivers to have  conversations about mental health and worked towards helping to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

The day was a partnership event put on by King’s, the Middlesex-London Health Unit, Thames Valley District School Board, and the Thames Valley District School Board Parent Involvement Committee.