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Introduction to the Resources

Why this Resource?

The Hincks-Dellcrest Centre is a children's mental health centre located in Toronto, Canada, that provides prevention, early intervention, and treatment services to infants, children, and youth who live in local communities. For over thirty years, these services have included mental health consultation services to teachers and other school personnel. (For more information about the Centre, visit its main website by clicking here.)
The ABCs of Mental Health was developed by the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre in response to parent and teacher requests for mental health information that would help them in their everyday interactions with children and adolescents. . In consulting with parents, teachers and other school personnel about development of the ABCs Resource, a common theme was that although mental health information regarding children is currently available in books and on the Internet, it was not always easy to understand and not always clear how to apply the information in school settings or at home.

Instead, individuals suggested that materials be developed to provide:
  • practical suggestions for the prevention of mental health problems;
  • information about the common behaviours and mental health problems that concern parents and teachers;
  • early intervention strategies to use in the classroom or home;
  • appropriate responses to children with more serious mental health problems.
In developing the ABCs of Mental Health, the Centre had the assistance of a team of Centre personnel and consultants, and a number of mental health professionals with specialized expertise in a particular area of children's mental health. To read more about the ABCs of Mental Health development team, click here.

How is the information in this Resource organized?

The behaviours you see as a parent or teacher can have a multitude of explanations and possible ways to address them. Many behaviours that trouble a parent or teacher may in fact be nothing to worry about, while others may be signals that something could be wrong.
The ABCs of Mental Health has several “chapters”, each relating to a particular set of behaviours. If you wish to review an entire chapter of material, you can do that

On the other hand, if you're wondering about a particular behaviour you see and what to do about it, the material is organized so that you can easily find information and suggestions regarding the particular behaviour that concerns you. You can enter to find the specific topic you need, and link to other relevant information.

The titles of the current chapters in the ABCs of Mental Health are as follows:
  • The Worried Child
  • The Sad Child
  • The Self-Harmful Child
  • The Angry or Aggressive Child
  • The Child with Poor Social Relations
  • The Defiant or Misbehaving Child
  • The Child with Attention Problems
  • The Child with Unusual Behaviours
  • The Child with Eating Problems
  • The Child with Drug and Alcohol Problems

The information provided in each chapter is organized around three headings, each of which contains different levels or concepts.

The three main headings are: Actions, Beliefs, and Course to Follow.
Provides descriptions of student behaviours that teachers may find confusing or troubling.

Describes possible factors that may be causing or influencing the Actions.

Provides tips and ideas for responding to the Actions.

For both the Actions and the Course to Follow, content is generally divided into three levels of seriousness, called: Green Light, Yellow Light, and Red Light.

Specific to behaviours that are within normal expectations for a child or adolescent.
Specific to behaviours that are beyond normal expectations and that warrant further consideration.
Specific to behaviours that are serious enough to need referral to a mental health specialist.

As certain behaviours might be normal at one stage of development, but could indicate a moderate or serious mental health problem at another stage of development, the Actions and Course to Follow also are generally divided into four different stages of development: Early Childhood, Middle Childhood, Early Adolescence, and Adolescence.

From about age 3 to age 5
From about age 6 to age 12.
From about age 13 to age 14.
 From about age 15 to age18

The content under the Beliefs heading is generally divided into the following areas: Biological, Congenital, Health; Family; Disabilities; Differences; Culture/Religion; and Trauma, Loss, or Turbulent Environment.
Biological, Congenital, and Health
Culture and Religion
Trauma, Loss, or Turbulent Environment