The World Health Organization’s declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic has changed, and will continue to change, our communities, our country, and our world. Public Health measures, critical to health and safety, have led to the necessary closure of many facilities where people form and grow their relationships, including places and spaces that deliver critical programs to youth in need.
Now, more than ever, children and families are facing increased anxiety, stress, fear, and worry — toxic stress is growing within Canadian homes. Mental health challenges do not stop when a pandemic begins. And neither will we.
The children and families we serve will be heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Loneliness and social isolation can be difficult for all of us, but vulnerable families and children will suffer the most. In fact, many children and young people are now facing increased adversities in their homes as:
- 44% of Canadian households have suffered job loss or reduced hours with over 1.3 million Canadians applying for EI benefits in the last two weeks.
- Domestic abuse shelters are seeing a dramatic increase in reports of family violence.
- Children’s helplines are reporting a 350% increase in calls from kids experiencing anxiety and mental health concerns.
Neuroscience research demonstrates that stable, caring relationships are essential for shielding youth from the negative effects toxic stress. Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors are there when kids need them most.
That time is now.
Big Brother Big Sisters is committed to maintaining and supporting the vital mentoring relationships we create in order to fight the social isolation of our most vulnerable youth. We are continuing to facilitate and monitor matches across the organization so that the young people we serve can still access the emotional and mental supports of their mentor.
Life-changing mentoring relationships are one of the few essential services we can continue to provide to youth through the COVID-19 pandemic.