WATCH — Visit our VR studio for tips on how to talk about mental health

Elijah Sandiford
Story by Elijah Sandiford • CBC Kids News • Published 2020-08-10 12:36

Elijah asks a doctor your questions

CBC Kids News asked Canadian kids to share their questions about mental health in our virtual doctor’s office — and you answered the call.

We answered your questions in a series of episodes taped in our VR studio:

We also received questions about how to talk to family and friends about mental health.

Watch the video below to hear some advice on that from psychologist Carlton Duff with the Canadian Mental Health Association — and to watch CBC Kids News contributor Elijah Sandiford try to do his trademark peace sign in VR.

Hint: Elijah may have had to alter his signature move!


Ruthabella Lam Age 14 Richmond Hill, Ont.  “I was wondering how, as a child, we can help out — or talk to — an older family member that we see is struggling with their mental health?”

(Image submitted by: Ruthabella Lam, graphic design by Philip Street/CBC)


Duff said the best thing kids can do in this situation is to try to empathize with how they’re feeling.

What does that mean?

Empathy is the ability to understand and share somebody else’s feelings.

Duff’s advice is to try your best “to be curious and understand exactly what they’re going through.”


Salina Guo Age 16 Toronto  “How can I explain the concept of depression and poor mental health to disbelieving family members or friends?”

(Image submitted by: Salina Guo, graphic design by Philip Street/CBC)


There isn’t a blood test or brain scan people can rely on to tell us that we have a mental health problem or mental illness, Duff said.

“That’s something that can make it kind of hard for some people to understand,” he said.

Duff said it’s important to explain that mental illness is something that can happen inside our bodies, “even though we can’t see it on the outside.”

How to get help

You can find some helpful tips on how to handle stress during the pandemic in the second instalment from our VR studio.

And get some advice on tackling fear in the third instalment from our VR studio.

Wondering how to recognize depression or anxiety and what to do about it? Read more tips from Duff here.

Don’t forget that Kids Help Phone is also always an option. You can live chat, text or call the counselling service any time.


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About the Contributor

Elijah Sandiford
Elijah Sandiford
CBC Kids News Contributor
You might know him as Agent Ocean on PBS’s Odd Squad or Prince Francisco in the Bruno and Boots series “This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall.” Fifteen-year-old Elijah Sandiford also has a huge passion for pop-culture, sports and content creation. After losing his father at a young age, he decided to make the most of life. His message for Canadian kids, “Dream bigger, dream brighter no matter your circumstance. The hard work you put in will take you on an exciting journey.”