Working together to change the system! The Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Youth Council has created a youth version of Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada.
Healthy emotional and social development in early years lay the foundation for mental health and resilience throughout life. An estimated 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness—yet, less than 20 per cent will receive appropriate treatment. By age 25, approximately 20 per cent of Canadians will have developed a mental illness. Youth who are engaged in child and adolescent mental health services, and who require continued services, are also often not well supported as they prepare to enter the adult mental health system.
Child and youth mental health is a collective responsibility requiring the engagement of parents, educators, health professionals, and community organizations. Improving the mental health of young people in Canada will require action on multiple fronts. Increased access to appropriate services and supports across the continuum of care is needed, including mental health promotion, early identification, primary care, specialized treatment, ongoing support, and long term care. Increasing comprehensive school health and post-secondary mental health initiatives that promote mental health and include targeted prevention efforts are also vital for improving the wellbeing of children and youth.
Special attention is needed to improve the experience of transitions across life stages in order to ensure equitable access to culturally safe, holistic and integrated high quality care for all youth.
The MHCC’s Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada (Strategy) gives priority to increasing the capacity of families, schools, post-secondary institutions, and community organizations to promote mental health among children and youth and prevent mental illness and suicide wherever possible.
The Mental Health Strategy for Canada: A Youth Perspective
Created by MHCC’s Youth Council, this youth-written and designed version of the Strategy highlights the experiences and vision of young people working toward system change, ultimately making the Strategy more accessible to all.
Evergreen: A Child and Youth Mental Health Framework for Canada
Evergreen is a framework of values and strategic directions to assist governments and other authorities responsible for child and youth mental health in setting priorities for policy and practice.
Addressing emerging adult mental health
MHCC Youth Council
The Youth Council is made up of young people between the ages of 18 and 30 who have lived experience with mental health problems or illnesses, either personally or through a family member or friend. Through the work of the Council, the MHCC is able to listen to the needs, experiences, and advice of a group of young people with relevant knowledge and understanding of mental health.
The MHCC makes the case for peer support, which helps build an empowering development of personal resourcefulness that can improve quality of life, as well as reduce the need for hospitalization, alleviating some of the pressure on Canada’s healthcare system.
Food for thought: A youth perspective on recovery-oriented practice
This video, developed with our Youth Council, breaks down what youth see as some of the core principles of recovery-oriented mental health and addiction services. It uses the metaphor of a restaurant to provide an out-of-the-box, light-hearted demonstration of the key concepts of recovery-oriented practice. It is not intended to have all the answers, but to provoke creative thought and start a discussion among service providers about how they could better support and work with youth in a recovery-oriented mental health and addiction setting.
Want more? Use the discussion guide to help direct your self-reflection or to facilitate critical discussions with others.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) created a number of resources to support the mental health and wellness of children and youth across Canada. Click on the links below for more information.