Everyone will be touched by a mental health issue—whether with themselves, in their families or in the workplace. Scott Aylwin, Senior
Director, Addiction & Mental Health, provides insight on how mental health issues affect Canadian youth.
“Twenty per cent of Canadian youth are affected by mental illness,” says Scott. “That translates to 1.2 million children and youth actively dealing with issues and many more beyond that who are at significant risk of developing a disorder." As with adults, the most common types of mental illness that affect adolescents are anxiety and depression.
Seventy per cent of mental health problems have their onset in childhood or adolescence. However, less than twenty per cent of adolescents who would benefit will receive the treatment they require. "Intergenerational effects are powerful as it has recently been reported that fully two thirds of youth with a mental health issue have a parent with a mental health issue," says Scott. "Early and effective intervention can help to interrupt this impact.”
Stigma associated with mental health remains a very real problem, but significant progress has been made in recent years. Scott is very optimistic that the social climate is at a tipping point in terms of embracing open discussion of mental health issues. “The conversation has clearly changed. Youth are increasingly willing to share their struggles with mental health concerns and are remarkably accepting of their peers who struggle. Unfortunately, some people who are struggling are not always aware of how much support they would get from those around them if they were to reach out. Simply being accepted and supported in a non-judgmental family or peer group is in itself a curative factor.”
"The challenge to the health care system is to not let these youth down when needs are identified and they do reach out for help," states Scott.
Mental Health Commission of Canada. 2016. www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English. Accessed 12 September, 2016.
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