Cassie + Friends (C + F) and Brain Canada are pleased to announce their new partnership to fund research that will address mental health in youth with rheumatic diseases such as juvenile arthritis and lupus – conditions that affect every 3 in 1000 kids or 24,000 children across Canada.

Together, they want to provide support to children and families living with these painful, chronic, and potentially devastating conditions, and ensure they receive timely care and treatment for their mental health needs.

Pediatric rheumatic diseases can have long-term physical and psychosocial effects on a young person. These conditions can result in chronic pain, fatigue, and physical limitations that can impact the day-to-day and overall quality of life of children and teenagers as well as young adults. Youth with these conditions, and especially females, are at increased risk of developing mental illnesses characterized by alterations in thinking, mood or behaviour associated with significant distress and impaired functioning, such as anxiety and depression.

Jennifer Wilson, Executive Director of Cassie + Friends, says: “Children growing up with rheumatic disease can be severely affected by their diagnosis, symptoms, and treatments. Hearing from youth and their families over the last 16 years just how devastating this can be, with little awareness and few resources to count on, we are thrilled to be leading the way with Brain Canada towards our ultimate vision of a pain-free future for kids that includes relief from mental pain.” 

I am so happy to hear about this research funding to help transform mental health for kids like my son, who lives with Juvenile Arthritis. My son was an active 11-year-old when he was diagnosed. His arthritis first disabled him with pain and then crippling anxiety for over a year. He could have really used more emotional support and still could.”

A Parent in the C+F community, Jennifer Faber from Windsor, ON

Despite the prevalence of co-occurring mental illnesses in pediatric rheumatic diseases, estimated at up to 40 per cent, there is a lack of understanding regarding the factors that contribute to their development, mental health screening for early identification and assessment, as well as limited treatment options to provide timely and appropriate care and support.

With a total funding envelope of $480,000, C+F and Brain Canada are pleased to support two team grants of $240,000 each over two years with an aim to support research that will improve our understanding of the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illnesses in children and youth.

“We are proud to partner with Cassie + Friends to support this important research initiative,” says Dr. Viviane Poupon, President, and CEO of Brain Canada. “This partnership aligns with our commitment to fund innovative research that has the potential to make a real impact on the lives of Canadians living with neurological and mental health conditions.”

The call for applications will be announced later this Spring.

For more information about the program and how to apply, please subscribe to receive funding opportunities from Brain Canada: LINK

About Cassie + Friends

Cassie + Friends’ mission is to transform the lives of children and families affected by Juvenile Arthritis and other rheumatic diseases through research, education, connection and support. Our vision is a pain-free future for kids.

Working hand-in-hand with patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals and researchers across every province and territory in Canada, we’ve created a vibrant, engaged and connected community that helps kids, teens, young adults and their families face the ups and downs of life with a chronic condition – so that no child has to live in pain alone.

As the only charity in Canada focussed 100% on kids, we’ve now raised nearly $3.5 million through the help of families, organizations and dedicated friends. Together, we will ensure the 24,000 kids and teens affected by childhood rheumatic disease in Canada – a leading cause of chronic disability in kids – receive the attention, resources and research they deserve. To learn more and join our mission, please visit