The KOC Blog

Climate Change or A Climate for Change

by Jane Isbister | Jun 11, 2014

As a life long outdoor guy and children’s camp director for over 40 years I have had taken a strong interest in environmental education and environmental issues. Red flags have been raised about how we humans impact mother nature since long before I was born, and the concern has rightly  now grown to an overpowering voice telling us to do something right now. Yet, at least in Canada, the response at the political level, has been to say the least, underwhelming. Some say that the task is to large and the message is so alarming that we have grown numb and even indifferent. As a Camp Director I have few answers, but as a Camp Director with a Children’s Mental Health Agency I have decades of answers.

Like environmental research and studies the Mental Health field has evolved dramatically over the past 40 years. Brain based research, mental and physical health linkages, community based interventions, social support networks and the movement towards evidence informed practices have moved the field into a new age. Consistent throughout this evolution has been a continuous acknowledgement and increased understanding of risk and prevention factors or in other words, the environment of the client. The child must be viewed in the context of the family, the community, the school, the physical home setting and all the resources that come into play. In order for us to support behavioral, pharmaceutical and social interventions to be effective we have to look at the total environment and to ‘create a climate for change’. Diet, daily schedule, the timing of supports, parent training, information sharing, organizing the living space, structuring social interactions and defining expectations are things that are within our grasp and tasks that we can learn to do. While not every child responds the same way to a medication or a behavioral intervention, by managing the environment with tasks we can control we can dramatically achieve the likelihood of success.