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Children and Youth

Child dressed as Rosie the Riveter on blue background | Enfant déguisé en Rosie la riveteuse sur fond bleu

This page was published in 2017. The data may be out of date.

What is the issue?

Healthy emotional and social development in our early years lay the foundation for mental health and resilience throughout the lifespan. Yet, 70 per cent of persons living with a mental illness see their symptoms begin before age 18. Mental illness affects some 1.2 million of our children and youth. By age 25, that number rises to 7.5 million (about one in five Canadians).

Youth who need mental health services as they are entering the adult mental health system are often not well supported: less than 20 per cent receive appropriate treatment — a figure close to the number of children receiving needed mental health services.

What are we doing?

As part of our mandate, we are working with our partners to advance the mental health of infants, children, youth, and emerging adults. The resources we’ve developed include the following:

Mental health system transformation

The Mental Health Strategy for Canada: A Youth Perspective offers an accessible adaptation of the Mental Health Strategy for Canada. Created by MHCC’s Youth Council and written and designed by youth, it highlights the experiences and vision of young people who are working toward system change.

Addressing emerging adult mental health

The MHCC-W2A Rainbow Youth Health Forum Report and video series show what you can do to create safer, more inclusive spaces for two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (2SLGBTQ+) emerging adults in health-care settings.


Post-secondary students standard

The National Standard of Canada for Mental Health and Well-Being for Post-Secondary Students – the first of its kind in the world – is a set of flexible, voluntary guidelines to help post-secondary institutions support the mental health and well-being of their students. In addition, a Starter Kit was created to help post-secondary institutions take their first steps in aligning with the Standard — in the COVID-19 context and beyond.

Early childhood mental health

See what we’re doing to help create a more supportive system, one that fosters positive early development, mental health, and resiliency across the lifespan.

Related Initiatives
How Emerging Adults and Service Providers Can Co-Create Mental Health Services

A one-hour panel discussion with perspectives from three emerging adults and service providers

Where they are and what they do: A practices of interest directory

Programs, resources, research, and more that support emerging adult mental health across Canada

Take it forward: Maintaining momentum on emerging adult mental health

A two-page synthesis on emerging adult mental health to support the implementation of the Consensus Statement’s priority recommendations


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.

Parents and carers are often some of the most trusted adults in a young person’s life, and are an important source of information and support. For this reason, it is…

In Canada, an estimated 1.6 million children and youth have a diagnosed mental health challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic has had serious global economic and social impacts, and it continues to…

The high cost of living in Canada has led to increased financial insecurity, pressures on food and housing affordability, and income inequality —which all significantly impact mental health and well-being.

The high cost of living in Canada has led to increased financial insecurity, income inequality, and pressures on food and housing affordability — which all significantly impact mental health and well-being.

What am I getting wrong about mental health? While people in Canada are talking about mental health more than ever, misconceptions in the media and elsewhere are keeping the stigma…

This three-part webinar series, co-hosted by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, focuses on emerging research about the impact of legalization for a range of priority populations across…

Young people face significant internal and external stressors, including social, physiological, and neurological change. Being an adolescent can involve many challenges.

Serious impact from COVID-19 on mental health and substance use continues, especially among youth A new report from the series of Leger polls commissioned by the Mental Health Commission of…

Watch our discussion of the recent policy brief about the impact of the pandemic on families and early childhood mental health with co-author and co-host: the Canadian Paediatric Society. In…