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Mental illnesses are some of the most disabling group of disorders that a person can develop and it is increasingly affecting Canadian youth. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, approximately 20% of youth in Canada are living with a mental illness. Those that face mental illness in childhood are much more likely to face mental health issues in adulthood.

Statistics on mental illness and Canadian youth.
•Approximately 5% of men and 12% of women between the ages of 12 and 19 have experienced a major depressive episode.
•3.2 million youth between the ages of 12 and 19 are at risk of developing depression.
•Canada’s youth suicide rate is the third highest in the industrial world.
•Suicide is the leading cause of death in 15 to 24 year olds.
•Mental disorders in youth are the second highest hospital care expenditure in Canada.
•In Canada, only one in five children that need mental health services receives them.
•Child and youth emergency room visits for mental health issues increased 45% from 2007 to 2014.

The causes of mental health disorders are attributed to a variety of factors including a person’s biological background, personality and environment. Unfortunately, there is a negative stigma around mental illness, which creates a barrier for diagnosis, treatment and acceptance. This negative view on mental illness can discourage people from seeking out professional help when they need it. In fact, almost 50% of Canadians who feel that they have suffered from anxiety of depression have not seen their doctor for help.

A report by CBC states that almost half of overnight hospital patients aged 5 to 24 are admitted for a mental health issue. This statistic is surprising considering only half of those facing mental health issues are actually seeking help.

Long wait times are forcing parents to go into debt in order to pay for faster accesses to treatment for their kids. Although services for children and youth were added to the Government’s Mental Health Strategy in 2012, many of the recommendations from the report have not yet been implemented. Clearly efforts need to be made in order to increase ease of access to treatments for mental health in Canadian youth. The report can be viewed here.

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