Oh Canada: How fortunate your ADHD community, to have two major national advocacy groups working on your behalf: CADDRA and CADDAC. I cannot name another country that has such an organized, diligent, and coordinated approach to improving the standard of care for its citizens affected by ADHD.
This post brings particular and timely relevance for Canadians, especially in seeking your support with two important ADHD-related campaigns in British Columbia and Ontario. (Details to follow.)
Yet readers worldwide also stand to benefit from these organizations’ resources and services—directly and indirectly. Each organization offers rich resources online, and Canadian efforts and guidelines contribute to a tide that “lifts all boats” when it comes to ADHD internationally.
(By the way, did you know? Some of the earliest and most prominent ADHD-related scientific expertise comes from Canada. Look for a blog post someday about these remarkable people: including Virginia Douglas, PhD, Gabrielle Weiss, MD, Lily Hechtman,MD, FRCP, and Margaret Weiss, MD, PhD, FRCP.)
Below, you will learn
- Why I encourage membership in one or both organizations (we cannot take ADHD’s legitimacy for granted, especially with governmental agencies)
- About two current “hot button” issues that need Canadians’ civic action (don’t worry, you’ll learn exactly what to do)
- The missions and membership of the two organizations
Here is The Bottom Line: Join, Engage
It has been my immense pleasure to work with both fantastic groups. I spoke at the CADDAC conference in 2008 (Toronto) and 2014 (Vancouver) and, this past fall, gave the plenary talk and a workshop at CADDRA’s annual conference in Quebec City.
In 2014, CADDAC dynamo director Heidi Bernhardt and I coordinated efforts regarding the generic Concerta products being introduced to the U.S. and Canada (different products, similar issues). Generic Concerta in Canada: Parallel Problems
In short, I know well these organizations and many of their members and leaders. That is why I feel very confident in making this recommendation:
If you are an ADHD professional in Canada, you need to be a CADDRA member! CADDRA Membership Information.
If you are connected in any way to ADHD in Canada, you need to be a CADDAC member (two levels). Become a CADDAC supporter.
Along with the plentiful benefits you receive directly, your membership gives these organizations more leverage when lobbying on behalf of the entire Canadian ADHD community with national and provincial governments. The importance of grassroots support cannot be overestimated!
ADHD in Canada: Two Current Action Items
Here are two key advocacy areas where CADDRA and CADDAC have joined forces. Primarily, they involve medication and education.
They explain the issues very clearly and provide concrete ways to make your voice heard to government officials.
1. Lack of ADHD Support in Canadian Schools
CADDAC recently conducted a survey of 1,000 parents in Canada asking about their child’s school experience. They found, according to Bernhardt:
45% were not receiving any support their ADHD and educators were very poorly trained in ADHD. The published white paper points out that unlike the US we do not have federal recognition of ADHD and schools being told that they are obligated to meet these students’ needs.
On this front, there are three active campaigns; click to read and learn the specific steps you can take to help improve the situation:
2. Shocking Treatment Guidelines in BC
Recently, a British Columbia-based medical organization issued some shocking guidelines for individuals taking stimulant medications for ADHD. Stimulants were included in the same category as opioids. Guidelines included:
- Mandatory drugs screenings (must be done within 24 hours of notification)
- Provisions for physicians requiring random pill counts of patients
- Limitations on the medications that can be prescribed with stimulants
CADDRA and CADDAC actively campaigned to improve these guidelines, with CADDAC informing the public and providing specific actions and letter templates: Changes to Stimulant Medication Treatment in BC – Why Should You be Concerned?
Last month, the CADDAC blog announced much-improved revisions to the guidelines: Up-Date on Revised BC Prescribing Guidelines.
An Overview of CADDAC & CADDRA
Now, let’s distinguish between the two organizations:
CADDAC stands for The Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada (CADDAC was founded while ADHD was still called ADD)
CADDAC’s stated mission: Providing leadership and support in awareness, education, and advocacy for ADHD organizations and individuals across Canada.
- Organizes, builds and presents up-to-date scientifically based, educational programs
- Actively advocates to government and institutional decision-makers for changes that will benefit those with ADHD, their families, and care providers
- Provides one on one support and information to parents and adults with ADHD
- Provides networking between ADHD groups across Canada
- Strives to increase the awareness and understanding of ADHD on all levels.
Leadership: President and Executive Director Heidi Bernhardt is a psychiatric nurse by training, mother of three young men with ADHD, and CADDAC’s founder. Heidi also served as the Executive Director of CADDRA for 6 years. Over the past 24 years, Heidi Bernhardt has helped raise awareness and understanding of ADHD among parents, educators, healthcare professionals, industry leaders, and government officials through presentations, conferences, media interviews, and advocacy work
Membership: Become a CADDAC Supporter
Online Resources: Webinars (and videos of past webinars, $10/each to non-members, free to members); links to support groups; ADHD clinic listings, tutors, schools, and camps (not endorsements), and more.
CADDRA stands for Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance. It is geared primarily to professionals.
Description: It is a non-industry, not-for-profit, independent alliance of professionals working in the area of ADHD who are dedicated to world-class research, education, training, and advocacy in the area of ADHD.
CADDRA’s stated mission: To improve the quality of life and reduce the suffering of patients with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and their families while maximizing their potential across the lifespan.
- Takes a leadership role in ADHD research in Canada
- Developed and frequently updates the Canadian ADHD Practice Guidelines
- Facilitates development and implementation of training standards and guidelines
- Shares information among all stakeholder groups
- Advocates to governments, teaching environments and employment organizations on ADHD.
Conference: CADDRA holds an annual conference in a different region of Canada each year. The 2018 conference will be held in Calgary, Nov. 10-11.
Leadership: Niamh McGarry is Executive Director, and there is a 12-member Board of Directors composed primarily psychiatrists and psychologists.
Membership: CADDRA membership is open to practicing physicians, psychologists, and allied healthcare professionals interested in the field of ADHD. Members join a network of health professionals in Canada and abroad. To apply: CADDRA Membership Information.
Online Resources: You will find a variety, including:
- ADHD Learning:
This is an online, searchable database of educational materials on ADHD for the healthcare professional. It includes webcasts, podcasts, journal article reviews, ePosters, and PowerPoint presentations, sorted and searchable by topic, speaker, and keyword. A selection of presentations from previous CADDRA conferences can be accessed through the portal.
Registration is free for health professionals, with an optional one-year fee for access to premium content. CADDRA members automatically get premium access, including access to selected plenaries and workshops from the CADDRA conferences the preceding year. Presentations from previous meetings are free for all healthcare professionals to view.
- Advocacy Updates
Canadian ADHD Practice Guidelines: No matter where you live, you (and your clinician) will learn a lot by reading these guidelines. Available for purchase in various forms; the PDF is a free download. These guidelines:
- Review diagnosis, assessment and treatment of ADHD across the lifespan
- Are evidence-based on recent peer-reviewed published literature
- Involve expert consensus when there is a lack of evidence
- Offer practical clinical advice
- Provide assessment, treatment and follow-up questionnaires in a fillable PDF format with automatic scoring where applicable in the eToolkit (free with the print copy of the Guidelines or can be purchased separately)
- Were developed and reviewed by a multidisciplinary team of ADHD specialists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologists, family physicians, pharmacists, nurses, educators and community stakeholders from Canada and the US
- Were fully funded by CADDRA without external financial grants.
Thanks to Canada’s official bilingualism, information on both sites is presented in English and French.
This is certainly a boon to French-speaking countries desperately in need of greater ADHD awareness and access to treatment. Such as France.
I welcome your opinions on this an all blog posts!