News / Winnipeg

Playing doctor to anxiety: Teddy Bears' Picnic teaching kids about mental health

A team of counsellors and psychologists will run the Worry Bear tent at Assiniboine Park.

Metro file

The Teddy Bears’ Picnic is going to be extra warm and fuzzy this year.  

The Worry Bear tent – a pretend medical area– wants to teach kids and parents alike how to cope with mental health issues.

“Children tend to externalize a lot of problems or project their difficulties on to their toys,” said Dr. Rehman Abdulrehman, clinical director at Clinic Psychology Manitoba, which will be running the Worry Bear tent.

“We’re going to teach them how to teach their teddy bears not to worry or how to cope with their worries.”

Kids will play mini-counsellors to their teddies, instructing them how to tackle negative thoughts or cope with panic attacks.

In previous years, the Teddy Bears’ Picnic has featured tents with play stethoscopes where children can learn how to fix their teddy bears’ booboos or hear tips on healthy eating. But this is the first tent with a mental health focus.

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 70 per cent of adults with mental health issues trace their problems to childhood or adolescence.

This shows how important it is to raising awareness around mental illnesses at young age, said Dr. Abdulrehman.

“If somebody has a cold, most of us generally know what to do,” he said. “If one of us has a panic attack, we don’t really know what to do.”

The Teddy Bears’ Picnic, an annual fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, will be May 28 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Assiniboine Park.

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