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When it comes to mental illness, youth is a critical period.

Most people living with a mental illness see their symptoms begin before age 18, but only 1 in 5 Canadian children receive appropriate mental health services.

The pandemic has and will continue to have significant and lasting negative mental health impacts, particularly on youth. The pandemic-wrought stress, uncertainty, social isolation, educational interruptions, and disruption to typical development comes at a particularly formative time for young people. The impact of the pandemic will not only change the course of individual lives, but has the potential to effect a generation of future leaders.

Youth need support today. Your contributions can help head off crisis, build resilience and equip kids with the skills necessary to care for themselves and their communities.

Join a network of insurance professionals supporting youth mental health.




The Issue

The mental health of half our entire population is worse now than before the pandemic.  

Thats almost 20 million people. But things are even worse for some people: for people who were already struggling with their mental health and for those with a disability. For women, and people who identify as LGBTQ+. For Indigenous people, and Black people and other people of colour. For people with low incomes. 

Before the pandemic, there were 1.6 million people in Canada with unmet mental health care needs. Since the pandemic, almost half of women (45%) and a third of men (34%) say their mental health has declined. Further, this decline is more pronounced in: 

  • those who are unemployed (61%), 
  • those with a pre-existing mental health issue (61%), 
  • younger people aged 18-24 (60%), 
  • Indigenous peoples (54%), 
  • those identify as LGBTQ2+ (54%), and  
  • those with a disability (50%).  

Suicidal thoughts are on the rise in many groups: 

  • 1 in 20 in the general population 
  • 1 in 6 in Indigenous peoples 
  • 1 in 5 who already had a mental illness 
  • 1 in 7 who identify as LGBTQ+ 
  • 1 in 10 parents of children under 18 

 Intake calls and requests for service at local CMHAs are up more than 170% in some regions.  


The Solution

CMHA believes in care before crisis. There is so much more that can be done in communities to promote mental health, prevent mental illness and intervene early.  

When it comes to mental health, we can’t just treat illness, we have to get ahead of it.  

Canada has typically invested in a “sickness care” system, with acute services and beds to care for people who are ill or in crisis. Acute care is essential, but so much more can be done and done earlier. 

CMHA provides the kinds of mental health services and supports that aren’t always available in the public healthcare system.  

These community programs, services, resources and supports help people recover from mental illness, help prevent mental health problems from taking hold in the first place, and promote positive mental health in schools, on campuses, in workplaces and in the community at large.   

These important services also take the pressure off the acute-care system by preventing mental health problems or addressing them early.   


Supporting Youth

To avoid crisis, we need to intervene before illness can take hold, and earlier in life. 

  • 70% of mental health problems begin in childhood and adolescence.9  
  • In Canada, only 1 in 5 children receive appropriate mental health services. 
  • Suicide is the second leading case of death among youth and young adults between 15-34 years.10 
  • Mental health promotion efforts are most effective when they begin early in life.11 

School-based approaches, such as social and emotional learning (SEL) programs, which teach age-appropriate social and emotional skills, can help students develop impulse control and self-regulation, manage anger and stress, identify emotions in others, feel empathy, listen and communicate and get along with others.  


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