Specific funding for children and young people

May 4, 2017

Mental health problems often first appear when people are young. In many cases, early intervention can prevent the onset of illness or minimize its effects. Recognizing the potential signs of mental illness and having the funding to appropriately treat and counsel young people can lead to better long-term outcomes for individuals and can lower overall costs to the health care system and social services.

Early intervention and treatment can prevent young people from developing full-blown depression, save lives by treating those at risk for suicide, and create better outcomes for young people with disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar, and eating disorders. Young people with different social identities including racialized, 2SLGBTQI, and Indigenous youth are potentially at greater risk and would benefit even more from early intervention and treatment.

The lack of access to health care for youth means that those who are in crisis can end up in emergency rooms. An Ontario study found that from 2006 to 2011 there was a 33 percent increase in the number of young people with mental health issues visiting the province’s ERs. Every ER visit puts further strains on the system and shows a failure to provide appropriate and accessible treatments for mental health challenges and harmful substance use.

About 70 percent of youth with mental health problems say that they began to experience symptoms in childhood. Getting young people proper care early is not only good for them but can also potentially help keep them out of the criminal justice system.

We need to do much more to improve school, home, and community-based programs for youth.