The young boy sits in front of a computer at Queen’s University but he barely notices his surroundings. He’s too busy trying to rescue Grandma and bring the light back to her mansion.
While he plays, a sensor picks up the boy’s brainwaves and incorporates them into the video game. The more relaxed he becomes the brighter the light on his magical hat shines.
“The MindLight Project is a game that is particularly targeted to help children with moderate to high levels of anxiety,” explains Dr. Tom Hollenstein, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Queen’s. “The kids get mentally aroused by the challenges in the game and are able to practice controlling their stress and making their mindlight bright.”
That’s exciting news but would a child be able to use the techniques he learned in the game to calm his anxiety in real life? Happily, the answer is a resounding yes!
In a research trial, funded by The Ontario Mental Health Foundation (OMHF), Dr. Hollenstein found MindLight was just as effective as an online cognitive behavioural therapy program, commonly used for children on wait lists for psychotherapy. “We saw the same magnitude in decrease of symptoms sustained over three months,” says Dr. Hollenstein.
I’ll tell you more about the MindLight Project and what it will mean for children struggling with anxiety in just a moment. But first, I hope I can count on you to support the OMHF with a gift of $50, $75, $100, $200, or whatever you can manage.
We urgently need your help to fund more excellent mental health research to advance the lives of Ontarians – maybe even the life of someone you know or love.
The truth is mental illness indirectly touches us all at some point through a family member, friend or colleague. And 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.
Sadly, mental illness affects people of all ages, including children. That's why Dr. Hollenstein's research is so very important.
Anxiety is the most prevalent mental disorder in children with estimates of 15% to 20% of the population dealing with some form of anxiety. And yet, wait lists for therapy can sometimes be as long as two years. It can also be expensive.
“It can be difficult for families to get their child into regular therapy,” says Dr. Hollenstein. “MindLight is something they can do right away to give them a sense of control over their lives.”
The intervention is also fun. Kids will want to practice it unlike many of the adult-like tools that are used to help children today. As Dr. Hollenstein says, “We have to find different ways to engage kids in practicing things like emotion regulation to improve their well-being and mental health.”
I couldn’t agree more which is why I’m so proud OMHF has chosen to fund Dr. Hollenstein’s groundbreaking project. And his isn’t the only one…
Over the last 10 years, we’ve supported 332 talented researchers. In fact, a 2015 Rand Europe study ranked the OMHF among the top 100 funders of mental health research worldwide and the sixth leading funder in Canada.
That’s a great start but we need to do more – much more. And we need your help!
Only with your support can we find new, innovative ways to fund more mental health research to better the lives of Ontarians.
Your generous gift will help fund diverse research projects that cover the mental health of an individual across their life span. It will enable us to nurture and develop researchers, both established and emerging.
And, your support today will help us continue to focus on funding priority-driven mental health research that generates real-world applications – just like the MindLight Project.
Please give as generously as you can and help make Ontario a brighter place for children living with anxiety, for every person struggling with a mental illness.
Andrea SwintonExecutive Director