CMHO regularly publishes a collection of statistics about child and youth mental health in Ontario. These statistics and relevant research data support the case for significant government investments into our sector.  

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Prevalence

  • As many as 1 in 5 children and youth in Ontario will experience some form of mental health problem.[1] 
    • 5 out of 6 of those kids will not receive the treatment they need.[2]
  • 70% of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence.[3]
  • 17% of children ages 2-5 years meet diagnostic criteria for mental health problems.[4]
  • 28% of students report not knowing where to turn when they wanted to talk to someone about mental health.[5]
  • Canada’s youth suicide rate is the third highest in the industrialized world.[6]

Challenges with the Current System

  • 76% families surveyed indicated it was very or extremely difficult to know where to find help.[7]
  • 63% of youth point to stigma as the most likely reason to not seek help.[8]
  • Poor transitions from youth to adult mental health services lead to disengaging from care in up to 60% of known cases.[9]

Investment

  • Ontario’s per capita investment in health care was found to be $1,361 versus just $16.45 for mental health.[10]
  • Promotion and prevention efforts have been found to reduce demand for mental health and social services over an individual’s life.[11]
  • Improving a child’s mental health from moderate to high can lead to lifetime savings of $140,000.[12]

Identification and System Usage

  • 73% of teachers agreed that anxiety disorders were a pressing concern
  • A family doctor or pediatrician was the first place 62% of families who were surveyed turned to support their child’s mental health.[13]
  • Child and youth emergency department and hospital visits for mental disorders have risen by 54% and 60% over the last decade.[14]
  • Despite a 17% increase in psychiatrists in Ontario between 2003 and 2013, the growth in demand for psychiatric services still outpaced the growth in supply.[15]
  • In the last 30 years, hospitalizations for eating disorders have increased by 34% among young women under 15.[16]

Equity Issues

  • Black Youth are significantly under-represented in mental health and treatment-oriented services and overrepresented in containment-focused facilities.[17]
  • First Nations youth die by suicide about 5 to 6 times more often than non-Aboriginal youth.[18]
  • LGBTQ youth face approximately 14 times the risk of suicide and substance abuse than heterosexual peers.[19]
  • Youth living in the lowest-income neighbourhoods had the highest rates of suicide, emergency department visits for deliberate self-harm, acute care mental health service use, treated prevalence of schizophrenia.[20]


[1] MHASEF Research Team. (2015) The Mental Health of Children and Youth in Ontario: A Baseline Scorecard. Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

[2] Ibid

[3] Government of Canada. (2006). The human face of mental health and mental illness in Canada. Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada

[4] Clinton, J., Kays-Burden, A., Carter, C., Bhasin, K., Cairney, J., Carrey, N., Janus, M., Kulkarni, C. and Williams, R. (2014) Supporting Ontario's Youngest Minds: Investing in the Mental Health of Children Under 6. Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health.

[5] Boak, A., Hamilton, H., Adlaf, E., Henderson, J. and Mann, R. (2016). The Mental Health and Well-Being of Ontario Students, 1991-2015: Detailed OSDUHS findings (CAMH Research Document Series No. 43).

[6] Canadian Mental Health Association. Fast Facts About Mental Illness. Webpage: http://www.cmha.ca/media/fast-facts-about-mental-illness/#.V9CLdfkrK70

[7] Parents for Children’s Mental Health. (2013). Family Input Survey: A System that Truly Makes Sense.

[8] Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health (2012). Evidence In-Sight: Effective Stigma Reduction Strategies in Child and Youth Mental Health.

[9] Davidson, S. and Cappelli, M. (2011). We've Got Growing Up to Do: Transitioning Youth from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services to Adult Mental Health Services. Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health.

[10] Lurie, S. (2014). Why Can't Canada Spend More on Mental Health? Health, 6, 684-690.

[11] Mental Health Commission of Canada. (2012). Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada.

[12] Mental Health Commission of Canada. (2013) Making the Case for Investing in Mental Health in Canada.

[13] Parents for Children’s Mental Health. (2013). Family Input Survey: A System that Truly Makes Sense.

[14] Canadian Institute for Health Information. (2016)

[15] Kurdyak, P., Zaheer, J., Cheng, J., Rudoler, D. and Mulsant, B. (2016) Changes in Characteristics and Practice Patterns of Ontario Psychiatrists: Implications for Access to Psychiatrists. Canadian Journal of Psychiatiry (Published online before print, August 22, 2016)

[16] Ontario Shores. Mental Health Facts. Webpage: www.ontarioshores.ca/about_mental_illness/mental_health_facts

[17] Gharabaghi, K., Trocmé, N. and Newman, D. (2016). Because Young People Matter: Report of the Residential Services Review Panel.

[18] Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Mental Illness and Addictions: Facts and Statistics. Webpage: www.camh.ca/en/hospital/about_camh/newsroom/for_reporters/Pages/addictionmentalhealthstatistics.aspx

[19] Canadian Mental Health Association - Ontario. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Queer identified People and Mental Health. Webpage: www.ontario.cmha.ca/mental-health/lesbian-gay-bisexual-trans-people-and-mental-health/     

[20] MHASEF Research Team. (2015) The Mental Health of Children and Youth in Ontario: A Baseline Scorecard. Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.