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Children and Youth

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.

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Purpose:This policy brief seeks to provide guidance to decision makers, systems planners, and policy makers about ways to support infants, young children, and their families in light of the mental...
With Kids Help Phone’s suicide-related contacts more than doubling in the last 5 years, suicide prevention and life promotion have become increasingly important to its work. This webinar discussed how...
The MHCC is funding 14 two-year projects (2020-22) to address knowledge gaps in the relationship between mental health and cannabis among priority populations.
A one-hour panel discussion with perspectives from three emerging adults and service providers.