Becoming Conscious About Mental Health Bias

Dawson is one of many young patients who has overcome mental illness thanks to Children's HospitalSnap out of it. Don’t be so weak. It’s just a normal part of growing up. These are just a few of the biases children and adolescents who have mental health challenges face. When they are receiving treatment, it is important that biases don’t affect their health care journey.

At Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre, Dr. Javeed Sukhera and his team of medical professionals are leading a ground-breaking project to reduce stigma for children and adolescents presenting with mental health concerns. Through qualitative research, Dr. Sukhera’s team discovered health care providers outside of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Care Program don’t feel fully equipped to effectively respond to children with mental illness.

In order to transform the care children receive, physicians and nurses in the Paediatric Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital underwent unconscious bias training. This allowed them to become aware of their own biases and encouraged efforts to overcome them. The stigma reducing interventions resulted in noticeable changes in the care provided by Emergency Department staff.

"The feedback from the stigma training workshop for doctors and nurses in the Paediatric Emergency Department was incredible,” shares Dr. Sukhera. “Health care providers shared that the intervention helped change the way that they approach patients and families presenting with mental illness, and will foster a more compassionate and empathic patient and family experience.”

With much success in the first phase of the project, along with a generous grant of $15,000 from Westminster College Foundation, the initiative has been expanded to other departments at Children’s Hospital, such as the inpatient floor. This additional training of health care professionals will ensure children in our region receive compassionate and welcoming care, regardless of where in the hospital they are receiving treatment.

Thank you to Westminster College Foundation for your on-going commitment to improving the care environment at Children’s Hospital. Your generosity is giving children and youth with mental health and physical issues a comfortable, understanding environment in which to seek care.