Leveraging Canada’s largest realtime e-mental health dataset for rapid response to COVID-19

Kids Help Phone is the largest front line serving young people across Canada. We have the largest Canadian unstructured data set on child and youth mental health. We hear from thousands of young people in their moments of need. We hear their struggles, their fears, their pain, and most importantly - what brings them hope. Our data combines implicit data from millions of unstructured conversations and explicit data from surveys by young people and our front line staff. In 2020, we built out our data for real-time insights, insights that are especially illuminating during unprecedented times like COVID-19. During COVID-19, we received a sustained 50% increase in volume across our services. In this presentation we will share data about how young people experienced COVID-19 and what gave them hope. We will also share how we leverage our data every day, built a data-driven organization, and opportunities we have for nation-wide partnerships.

Presenters and slide deck

Alisa Simon, Senior Vice President, Innovation & Chief Youth Officer

Alisa Simon brings more than 20 years of leadership experience in health-care access and support services to her role as Senior Vice President, Innovation and Chief Youth Officer at Kids Help Phone. As a champion of innovation, Alisa is integral to the organization’s development of virtual health solutions for youth. Using comprehensive data and research to provide knowledge management strategies, Alisa drives improvements in service and support that respond to evolving technologies and the changing needs of young people. Prior to joining Kids Help Phone, Alisa had experience serving as Health Policy Director at Public Citizens for Children and Youth where she managed two helplines assisting children and families. She was also the Health Care Director at Citizens for Consumer Justice and Acting Director of Policy and Communications with the Association of Ontario Midwives. Alisa holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina.

Sarah Mughal, Director of Service Innovation

Sarah Mughal, MPH, currently works for Kids Help Phone as the Director of Service Innovation, responsible for reimagining Kids Help Phone's services along an adapted stepped care model to improve accessibility across Canada. Since 2018, Sarah has also sat on the Mental Health Commission of Canada's technical committee developing the National Standard for the Mental Health and Well-Being of Post-Secondary students, and is incredibly proud to be a part of this important work. Prior to her current positions, Sarah spent the past decade in mental health advocacy, community education, and suicide prevention both nationally and internationally. She's currently based in Toronto, and is thrilled to be joining the Frayme Learning Institute.


Key Learnings

  • The top 3 topics addressed among youth include anxiety/stress, relationships, and depression/sadness.
  • Kids Help phone is starting to collect data from from youth using qualitative methods, so they can more accurately include ‘youth voice’.
  • There was an initial increase in demand during first 6 months of the pandemic due to anxiety and worry about COVID-19, and concerns have now shifted and are less specifically focused on COVID -19.

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