Helping Children—With a Population Health Approach
Dr. Charlotte Waddell believes society needs to make more preventive investments early in children’s lives, instead of waiting to intervene only when problems arise. To this end, Waddell, Canada Research Chair in Children’s Health Policy, is building a comprehensive population health strategy to promote healthy development for children, and to prevent disorders in children at risk.
Mental disorders are the leading health problems faced by Canadian children, and there are marked social disparities in how children experience both the causes and the consequences of these disorders. Waddell would like to see Canadian policy-making widely adopt population health ideas, such as prevention, to address these disparities.
Waddell is leading the first Canadian scientific evaluation of the landmark Nurse-Family Partnership, a primary prevention program that has the potential to reduce child maltreatment and to improve mental health and life chances for disadvantaged children.
Waddell’s research on building a comprehensive population health strategy will also help ensure effective treatment for more children with mental disorders, as well as better monitoring of Canada's collective progress towards improving the lives of all children.
If even a fraction of children’s mental health problems can be prevented, the benefits for children and for all Canadians will be incalculable. Waddell’s work may, ultimately,contribute to thousands more children flourishing and meeting their full potential.