New eLearning courses available for justice and solicitor general professionals!

CanFASD has recently released two new online courses for professionals in the Justice and Solicitor General systems.


At CanFASD we offer a wide range of online courses to improve professional and community understanding of FASD. Our courses are categorized by level of experience, where Level I courses provide a basic overview, Level II courses provide sector-specific training, and Level III courses provide expert training to FASD professionals. We have recently added two new Level II courses to our repertoire: FASD for Judicial and Legal Professionals and FASD for Solicitor General Professionals.

Legal issues are a common experience for individuals with FASD. Some researchers have found that as many as 60% of adolescents and adults with FASD have a history of trouble with the law. Furthermore, it is estimated that 10-23% of individuals in the criminal justice system have FASD. A “one size fits all” approach to justice will not likely be effective for improving outcomes for those with FASD. It is important that professionals working in justice systems have a strong understanding of FASD, the unique challenges this population may face, and strategies for responding and supporting them effectively

Our new Level II courses are designed for professionals working in the Legal and Judicial, and Solicitor General systems. They provide learners with a better understanding of how FASD impacts a person’s involvement with the justice system, challenge some of the common assumptions about FASD and justice-involvement, and provide helpful strategies and suggestions for working with justice-involved individuals with FASD. There are also interactive case examples to help reinforce the course content.

Learners who complete these courses will be equipped with evidence-based information practice-informed recommendations, and access to many resources that can be easily and effectively integrated into their practice and approach to working with individuals with FASD. All of this information is presented within the context of Canadian legal parameters, and tailored to profession-specific opportunities an

It is recommended that learners who are interested in these courses first complete Level I Foundations in FASD Course, which provides fundamental knowledge and information about FASD further built upon in the Level II justice

For more information about FASD and the criminal justice system, check out our issue paper.


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Looking for research participants for an online study!

Would you like to participate in a study looking at how physical health and brain function are related in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)? Follow this link to sign up or read more about the study below!

Researchers and health professionals know that alcohol exposure during fetal development can impact the brain. This impact can lead to difficulties in memory, attention, problem solving, and other complex brain functions, which are commonly experienced by individuals diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

What researchers are beginning to understand is how this alcohol exposure can also affect one’s physical health. The authors of a recent study found that chronic illnesses may be more prevalent in individuals diagnosed with FASD when compared to the general population. We know that managing chronic illnesses is difficult. Skills such as planning and organization are essential in tasks such as remembering appointments and taking medications as prescribed. Therefore, researchers at the University of British Columbia are conducting a study on chronic health in young adults diagnosed with FASD or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Specifically, we are interested in how brain impairment and physical health are related in this population, and how they affect the quality of day to day life.

If you are a young adult (18-30 years old) with a diagnosis of FASD or FAS, and are fluent in English, you are invited to participate in this study. You will be asked to complete an online questionnaire about aspects of your medical history, behaviour, and day to day life. This questionnaire will take approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. All information collected will remain confidential. We hope that this research brings awareness regarding the complexities of individuals with FASD to health professionals and the general population. Also, we hope that it will inform future interventions for FASD.

If you are interested in participating, please follow this link to the online questionnaire!

Written by Aisha Ghani, B.A. from the University of British Columbia


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CanFASD New Webinar Announced: Towards Healthy Outcomes!

We’re excited to announce that we will be continuing our CanFASD Webinar series! Our next presentation is from CanFASD Senior Research Lead, Dr. Jacqueline Pei. She will be talking about her intervention framework Towards Healthy Outcomes for Individuals with FASD.

Achieving healthy outcomes for individuals with FASD requires working together towards meaningful goals for each individual. Recognizing this need, her and her team of researchers produced an evidence-informed model to help us to identify key needs for all humans – with specific consideration for how existing research can inform our practice.

This model looks at intervention across an individual’s developmental lifespan. It is enacted within interactive systems and is strength-based and empowered.

This 90 minute presentation will be held on Friday June 5, 2020 at 1:00pm EST. Sign up here to register.

This is the second presentation in CanFASD’s Webinar Series. This series is one of our responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, designed to bring evidence-informed research on FASD to Canadians from the comfort of their own homes. You can watch our first webinar with 2020 Sterling Clarren FASD Award winner, John Aspler, below.

CCSA: New Resources on Alcohol and the Immune System

EnglishLogoDear colleague,

There has been a marked increase in alcohol use since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. With this increased use and media attention on alcohol, there is an increased need for accurate information about the health impacts of alcohol use.

This is a crucial time for clear messages about alcohol use, overall health and the immune system.

CCSA has developed a new resource, Alcohol and the Immune System: 4 Things You Should Know, to provide clear facts about alcohol and the immune system and what you can do to minimize risks to your health. It has never been more important to correct misinformation and highlight that alcohol does not improve health, kill viruses or improve our ability to ward off illness.

Key facts include:

  • Alcohol consumption contributes to a wide range of health problems and can weaken the body’s immune system.
  • High-risk alcohol use reduces the body’s ability to fight off illnesses.
  • Chronic high-risk alcohol use can weaken lung immune responses and increases the risk of developing respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
  • Alcohol use does not stimulate the immune system or increase resistance to illness.

In addition to this resource, CCSA has released a suite of supporting resources:

These resources are available on CCSA’s COVID-19 resource section featuring resources on the impacts of COVID-19 and substance use from trusted sites and original publications from our experts.

If you have any questions about CCSA’s alcohol resources or want to know more about our work on alcohol, please email If you have any questions about our cannabis resources, please e-mail

Thank you


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Mental Health and Covid-19


Mental health is different from mental illness. Everyone has mental health, but not everyone experiences mental illness. Our mental health is our mental well-being, which incorporates our emotions, our thoughts and feelings, our ability to solve problems and overcome challenges, our social connections and supports, and our understanding of the world. Mental illness is a condition that affects the way people think, feel, behave, or interact with other people. Just like physical illnesses, mental illnesses can come in many different forms. We often refer to mental illness as “mental health challenges” or “mental health issues”. Like physical health, it is important that we take care of our mental health.

Our mental health is very fragile right now because of all the uncertainty and stress surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. We can protect our mental health by using healthy coping strategies when we start to feel negative emotions.

Recent research shows that more Canadians are turning to alcohol to cope with the feelings of anxiety, stress, loneliness, and boredom. But alcohol is a dangerous coping strategy. It can lead to other mental health challenges like substance use issues, increased anxiety, and depression. It is important that we turn to healthy coping strategies to maintain and improve our mental well-being during the COVID-19 outbreak and beyond.

Healthy coping strategies might look different for everyone. Many of us have built healthy coping strategies into our daily lives without even thinking about it! As a rule of thumb, think about the things you do to change your mindset when you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious. Some of those strategies might need to be adapted to suit your current situation, but there are a number of strategies that we can fall back on.

Listed below are examples of some healthy coping strategies. Remember that not all of these coping strategies will work for you. Be creative and experiment to see which ones best fit your lifestyle. For more information check out the resources available on the Canada Mental Health Association website.

Get the right information
Get factual information about the pandemic from reputable sources like:
The World Health Organization (WHO)
Health Canada
Your provincial or territorial government.
Be wary of information shared on social media sites from unfamiliar websites or sources.

Stay tuned in but know when to unplug
Right now, there is a lot of coverage surrounding COVID-19. While it is important to stay informed about how to manage your risk, too much information can take a toll on your mental well-being. Try to limit your exposure to news coverage and social media to once a day or less.

Connect with loved ones
Reach out virtually and ask for support from friends or family members that are a positive influence on you. If possible, avoid connecting with people that increase your feelings of stress or anxiety.

Do an activity that you find enjoyable
Do an activity you find enjoyable and relaxing. This might include any number of activities, like mindfulness meditation, reading a book, gardening, painting, and cooking. Choose something that you enjoy and are likely to continue doing.

Seek support if you need it
Seek support from formal networks, either online or by phone, that can help you when you are experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety. These might include distress lines, online support groups, or religious institutions in your community.

Stay physically active 
Physical activity is proven to have positive effects on our mental well-being. Find ways to bring physical activity into your daily routine. You can search for traditional workouts and exercise classes, or you can bring physical activity into your life with walks and dance parties. However you choose to do it, try and get your body moving.

If you have tried a number of different coping strategies and still find you are struggling with your mental health, you may need to seek extra support from someone like your doctor, a psychologist, a psychotherapist, a social worker, or another health care professional.

If you are having trouble limiting your substance use during this time you can seek support from a number of different organization across Canada. If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, your symptoms may be intensified by your feelings about the pandemic. If possible, reach out to your provider to discuss how you are feeling and adjust your treatment if needed.


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