Youth Mental Health


of Canadians (1 in 5) will develop a mental illness by age 251 


of children who have been diagnosed with a mental illness do not receive treatment1 

1.2 million

Canadian children and youth are affected by mental illness1


of mental health problems start during childhood or adolescence1

As early experiences shape the architecture of the developing brain, they also lay the foundations for sound mental health. Disruptions to this developmental process can impair a child’s capacities for learning and relating to others — with lifelong implications2

Without early diagnosis and treatment, children with mental disorders can have problems at home, in school, and in forming friendships. Mental illness can also interfere with a child’s healthy development, causing problems that can continue into adulthood3

Signs and Symptoms4

Mental health struggles in children can be hard to identify. Children differ from adults in that they experience many physical, mental, and emotional changes as they progress through their natural growth and development. They are also in the process of learning how to cope with, adapt, and relate to others and the world around them. It can be hard to distinguish between the expected emotions of a developing child and a child with mental health struggles. Here are some signs and symptoms to look out for:

Do you or your child need help?

If you feel that you are a youth who is experiencing mental health challenges, please reach out to your family, a friend, your family doctor, someone you trust, or to some of the resources below.  If you feel that your child is experiencing mental illness, please connect with a health care professional or one of the resources below.

Canada’s youth suicide rate is the third-highest in the industrialized world. 

Suicide accounts for:


of deaths among youth aged 10 to 141


of deaths among youth aged 15 to 191


 of deaths among young adults aged 20-241

What can we all do to help children with mental illness?5

Help build strong and caring relationships; it is important for children and youth to have strong relationships with family and friends.

Help them develop self-esteem, so they feel good about themselves; show love and acceptance, praise them when they do well, and recognize their efforts and achievements. 

Listen and respect their feelings; it’s OK for children and youth to feel sad or angry, encourage them to talk about how they feel. Keep communication and conversation flowing by asking questions and listening to your child

Create a safe and positive home environment, this can help them feel secure. Small things such as a note in a lunch box or a secret handshake can make a huge difference in their lives. 

Encourage a healthy lifestyle. Physical and mental health are closely connected, a healthy lifestyle can help manage symptoms.

How is Kindred Foundation helping?

Kindred Foundation supports community programs and initiatives focused on improving and helping youth who struggle with mental health challenges.  We aim to support these programs as well as build our own to give youth the mental health resources and help that they need. 

Kindred Foundation is a proud supporter of Shine Out, Shout Out : Just Be You, a peer-support mental health program for youth and the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council.

Common Disorders in Children4

Anxiety disorders Anxiety disorders in children are persistent fears, worries, or anxiety that disrupt their ability to participate in play, school, or typical age-appropriate social situations. 

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Children with ADHD have difficulty with attention, impulsive behaviors, hyperactivity, or some of these in combination.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) Autism spectrum disorder is a neurological condition that appears in early childhood — usually before age 3. Although the severity of ASD varies, a child may have difficulty communicating and interacting with others.

Eating disorders Eating disorders are defined as a preoccupation with an "ideal body type", an unhealthy focus on weight and weight loss, and unsafe eating and dieting habits. Eating disorders — such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder — can result in emotional and social challenges and life-threatening physical complications.

Depression and other mood disorders Depression is persistent feelings of sadness disrupt a child's ability to function in school and interact with others. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) PTSD is prolonged emotional distress, anxiety, distressing memories, nightmares, and disruptive behaviors in response to traumatic events.

Schizophrenia Schizophrenia is a disorder in perceptions and thoughts that causes psychosis. Most often appearing in the late teens through the 20s, schizophrenia results in hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking and behaviors.

In children aged 3-17:


have received an ADHD diagnosis6


have been diagnosed with depression6


have diagnosed anxiety6


have a diagnosed behaviour problem6

Some conditions commonly occur together

Some Treatment Options 

Psychotherapy (talk therapy) -  can help a child function better and increase well-being and healing. Typically involves the parents in the treatment, helps teach the child skills to practice at home or school, and measures the progress over time7.

Medications - antidepressants, stimulants, mood stabilizers, or other medications. Medications are often used in combination with other treatments. If multiple health care providers or specialists are involved, treatment information should be shared with all Care Team members to ensure co-ordinated care for the child7.

Family Counseling - includes family members in treatment to help create a process of understanding and healing for parents, siblings, and other family members7.

Support for Parents and Families - involves individual or group sessions for parents and caregivers that include education and the opportunity to talk with other parents.  These sessions can provide new strategies for supporting a child with mental illness. A therapist also can educate parents a on how to communicate and work with schools on accommodations7.

How COVID-19 has Impacted Mental Health

Due to the pandemic, youths have been stuck at home without much or any contact with friends. Their daily lives have been altered, and this has had a huge impact on their mental health8.

In 2020, the Kids Help Phone 24/7 hotline experienced a 100% increase in usage, with 4 million calls and texts made by young Canadians compared to 1.9 million in 20198.

Since the onset of the pandemic, it is harder to access mental health support, especially in-person services. This is especially true for young people who have limited access to the necessary technology in order to access virtual services when in-person services have been restricted8.

Canada’s youth are sounding these calls for action given the toll of COVID-19 on their mental health. Youth are facing job loss and loss of income, disruptions in their education, isolation, loss of recreational opportunities, illness or loss of loved ones, and uncertainty about the future8.


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