This report provides an overview of the current state of youth mental health in Canada and discusses salient issues among the Jack.org network in terms of what causes youth to struggle with their mental health, what prevents young people from accessing mental health care and support, and what strategies and next steps can improve the current situation.
Youth mental health in Canada continues to be in a state of crisis. Approximately 1.2 million young people in Canada are impacted by mental illness, and suicide remains the leading cause of non-accidental death among young people (Mental Health Commission of Canada, n.d.).
The mental health crisis is more severe within specific populations, especially racialized, Indigenous, and 2SLGBTQ+ communities, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further magnified the economic, political, and social conditions that simultaneously cause youth to struggle and prevent them from accessing help.
One potential upside is that youth mental health struggle has received significant media coverage during the pandemic, elevating crucial conversations about mental health struggle and the lack of available, appropriate, and affordable resources and supports.
The youth mental health crisis indicates an urgent need for more accessible, available, and diverse mental health resources, as well as a pressing need to address the sources of youth mental health struggle by building and fostering communities where young people can thrive.
Youth Voice Report
The relationship between financial stress and mental health is well documented. Those who are dealing with financial stress are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and overall poor health (McCloud, 2019). We surveyed youth in the Jack.org network about financial insecurity to better understand how they define it, and how it directly impacts their mental health and found that:
Even for youth with more economic advantage, who are disproportionately represented in the Jack.org network relative to the national youth population, uncertainty around the future and worries about securing meaningful employment and quality of life are salient. Responses from the network indicate:
Richardson, T., Elliott, P., Roberts, R., & Jansen, M. (2017). A longitudinal study of financial difficulties and mental health in a national sample of British undergraduate students. Community Mental Health Journal, 53(3), 344–352. doi: 10.1007/s10597-016-0052-0
The stress and anxiety youth are facing about securing their livelihoods and future has only intensified due to the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its profound economic, social, and health impacts.
Financial stress and uncertainty have not only contributed to youth mental health struggle, but have also long been major barriers to youth accessing mental health care. 52% of survey respondents have accessed or tried to access mental health services in the past year, while 36% of that same respondent pool have encountered financial barriers when trying to access those services.
Moroz N, Moroz I, D’Angelo MS. Mental health services in Canada: Barriers and cost-effective solutions to increase access. Healthcare Management Forum. 2020;33(6):282-287.
Even while navigating the harsh realities of the pandemic and facing many barriers to accessing high quality mental health care, youth continue to persevere and find new ways to mitigate a mental health crisis that shows no signs of slowing down.
Youth Voice Report