Children and Youth

Many of the problems that occur in adults also develop in children, other disorders are unique to childhood and adolescence. It can be very difficult for a parent to judge whether something is wrong and whether a child needs professional help.

Children and youth often put their emotional distress into words and this can be quite a challenge for the parent. Just as with adults, the key factors to keep in mind are the severity and duration of the problem.

Children and Adolescents Support Services

Different mental health professionals can help children and adolescents. They include school counselors, pediatric social workers, child psychologists, and child psychiatrists. Treatment for mental health related problems in children and youth is tailored to the child's age, physical health, mental and emotional development and language skills.

Mental disorders are the most common medical conditions causing disability in young people. Most mental disorders begin before age twenty- five and tend to be chronic, with substantial negative short and long-term outcomes. They are associated with poor academic and occupational success, economic burden, personal, interpersonal and family difficulties, increased risk for many physical illnesses and shorter life expectancy, Early interventions and treatments that are easily accessed and effective may be a cost-effective way to improve both short and long-term outcomes, including the prevention of some disorders, reduction in disability, and enhanced civic and economic participation.

There are several factors that have worked against te development of an effective child and youth mental health system prior to now: different care services (i.e. health care, education, social services) have been segregated from each other, making it difficult to address whole-person needs of young people and families. Services of adequate quality and responsiveness are not equally accessible for all individuals and groups. Research into child and youth mental health lags behind other health research activities. Stigma against those living with a mental disorder, and against their families, may go unchallenged. There are funding disparities in mental health services across Canada. As one mental health professional noted, "If we were to start from scratch and build a child and youth mental health system, what we would create would be light years from that which we have." (Mental Health Commission of Canada)

Evergreen: A child and youth mental health framework for Canada