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Kids, Poverty and Mental Health

The Hammond family has trouble making their way to mental health services for their children, one of the key issues for helping children and the reason the EDI has become such an important tool. (Denise Davy)
© Denise Davy

A child who lives in poverty is three times more likely to have a mental health problem. Reporter Denise Davy investigates why this happens and what’s being done about it in a five part series. 

Data released exclusively to CBC Hamilton shows that Hamilton children who live in low income neighbourhoods can be so impacted by poverty-related stressors early in their lives that it can affect their ability to learn in school.

The data shows the rate of impacts in various developmental areas can be as much as 10 times higher in the city’s low income neighbourhoods compared to it's most wealthy ones.

The data, when combined with a McMaster University study that shows children living in poverty suffer from more mental health problems, illustrates the often devastating impact poverty can have on a child’s mental health and well being.

“Living in poverty is incredibly stressful,” said Michele Bates, mental health lead for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.

“What does that do to a child’s sense of safety and well-being on a very foundational level? I think it’s a tremendous stress and strain. The burden is tremendous.” 


Tyler Chabot struggled with anxiety after returning from a gifted program back to a regular class. He got help through a school program specifically designed to help students with anxiety, a growing issue for children and teens. (Denise Davy)

Davy’s research was supported with a journalism fellowship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Read more here:



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