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What mental health means to us:


Mental health...

  • is a precious resource for children and their parents and caregivers. 

  • is part of our overall health. It includes our social and emotional well-being, how we cope with stress in the ups and downs of our lives, how we feel about ourselves and see ourselves, and our self-esteem and confidence. 

  • can be supported just like the other aspects of being healthy. We take care of our physical health by eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep. We can also take care of our mental health and promote positive mental health for our children.

Handle with Care focuses on the

four building blocks of positive mental health

Building Block 1 - ​Trust and Attachment

Building Block 2 - Promoting & Enhancing Self-Esteem

Building Block 3 - Expressing Emotions

​Building Block 4 - Relationships with Others

HWC Focus

Other key themes in Handle with Care include:

  • Self reflection

  • Self-care

  • Facilitated interactions

What Parents Are Saying About Handle with Care

Trust and Attachment

​“It’s just brought us closer and to me they feel more safe and secure to share with me...their feelings”

 “I do make more time for her to sit and talk with me. And show her what she has to say is important and she gets her time to talk and tell me what happened through the day. And whatever else she wants to tell me and we would usually write it down it in a little book. True stories as she likes to call them.”

Relationships with Others

 “There is more communication between the two of us. Even though he’s three years old, there’s that. It’s... I don’t know how to explain it, it’s just different”

​“One thing I guess that we could say that was good about this, is this is something you can do with your spouse too it doesn’t have to be just with your kids, so when you focus on these things then it will overflow to other relationships so look at that!” 

Promoting and Enhancing

​“It’s easier to understand why umm we feel the way we do because we all know we have a temperament and we all know we have a perspective on something so um by doing it a learning between us our partners and our children it can clash and it can also work really well but by having that background it’s you seem to be able to understand and appreciate each other more.” 

Expressing Emotions

 “It’s helped me understand my child’s emotions more, and the appropriate times to give him a choice and not to give him a choice.”

​“Just making sure that I recognize my own emotions and express them in a way that Abby understands why I am expressing that emotion so that she learns to express the emotion as well.” 

History of Handle with Care

The HWC project began is 2002 with a collaboration between Bonnie Pape at the National Office of the Canadian Mental Health Association and Nancy Cohen at the Hincks-Delcrest Centre in Toronto. The initial project funded by Human Resources and Social Development Canada produced two products; 1) Handle with Care; Strategies for Promoting the Mental Health ofYoung Children in Community Based Childcare, and 2) a bilingual resource booklet for practitioners in the field. 

The second phase of the project in 2004, involved a national training initiative under the leadership of Bonnie Pape and Nancy Cohen. Two training programs were completed in 2007 with accompanying manuals and materials in both English and French. 

Phase three funded by the Alva Foundation and the Hincks-Delcrest Raise a Smile fund, was completed in 2011. This phase examined outcomes of training on practitioners knowledge and practice, and evaluated these outcomes in a controlled study in three Ontario communities (urban, suburban, and rural). 

The current phase, funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, has supported the adaptation of HWC materials in content and delivery style so that they are appropriate for both families and those working with children and families. 

What Parents Are Saying
HWC History
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