Youth Mental Health


  • 1/5 (%20) of Canadians will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives.
    • Mental health and mental illness are two different things. Just like we all have physical health, everyone has mental health. And just as we can all have a physical illness, anyone can develop a mental illness.
    • 4/5 of us will be affected by it in some way with someone we know
  • ANYONE can have a mental illness. It doesn’t matter what your background is, what religion you practice, how much money you make, or anything else. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate-BUT some categories can seem more susceptible (youth, elderly, minority groups, first responders, agriculture).
    • Suicide is the second leading cause of death in youth ages 15-24 and accounts for 24% of all deaths of youth
    • Suicidal ideation can occur in youth as early as 7 years old
  • 60% of people (including youth) with a mental health problem wait OVER A YEAR before telling their closest family and friends about it.
    • Reasons for not reaching out:
      • Feeling that reaching out for help will not make a difference –they may feel that there is no chance of solving their problems
      • Believing they have to deal with what/how they are feeling alone
      • Thinking that no one really cares
      • Thinking that the way they are feeling is “normal,” or a part of growing up
      • Being afraid that seeking help means that they’re “crazy”
      • Feeling afraid they won’t be heard
      • Past experiences of receiving a bad reaction when they opened up
      • Misunderstanding around treatment or being on medications
  • The most common mental illness for youth is Anxiety.
    • It is estimated that about 20% of all youth experience serious challenges to their social-emotional well-being at some point, and about 10% of them will develop and anxiety disorder
    • Anxiety is the fastest growing concern described by adolescents
  • 50% of youth report concern coping with stress.
    • This is enough to want to learn how to manage it and build resilience and coping skills
  • Females generally show more signs of stress.
    • Females (based on biological research) are more likely to report/talk about when stressed out. They show signs outwardly, whereas men (generally) hide their feelings. Men are more likely to show physical/emotional signs of stress (headaches, stomach pains, crying, facial expressions).


Stress in life can start to build up and begin impacting our mental health. Positive coping is what you can do to help yourself relax and deal with the stresses of everyday life.

Let’s start by looking at what stress is. Stress has to do with how we look at a situation and how we think we will react. If we think it is going to be hard for us to handle, then we define it as stressful. It may not be the situation itself that is stressful – different people can react completely differently to the same situation – stress is about how you react to the situation. This is good to know because then you can start to understand your stress reaction and look at ways to help you deal with that reaction.

So what are some ways that you can help deal with that stress reaction?

  • Go for a walk
  • Play with a pet
  • Play loud music while doing housework
  • Write in a journal
  • Have a hot bath with candles
  • Listen to music
  • Dance like nobody’s watching
  • Go for coffee with a friend
  • Paint
  • Deep breathing
  • Watch a good movie
  • Do some creative writing
  • Laugh
  • Play sports! Soccer, baseball, basketball, whatever you enjoy or try something new!
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Do crafts
  • Make a fabulous dinner
  • Phone a friend
  • Bake bread
  • Buy yourself flowers
  • Set a goal
  • Show gratitude

So these ideas of dealing with or coping with stress can be helpful to get through things that we find difficult but sometimes things can build up to a point where what we are doing to cope with stress doesn’t seem to be helping. This is when it’s important for you to reach out and talk to someone you trust. Maybe that is a guidance counselor, your parents, your doctor, and the list goes on! By talking to someone you can get information about what you might be going through or get some ideas of new things to try when you are feeling overwhelmed by stuff that’s going on.

Looking for places to call? Check out our help and resources page for a list of ideas or see more below!



Some signs that you or someone you know may be struggling:

  • Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness teens can experience are:
    • Talking about wanting to die/threaten suicide-even as a joke-not a joke and want to take everything seriously
    • Show changes in behavior-not regular (mood swings)
    • Change in appearance
    • Notice their eating, sleeping, exercise patterns
    • Angry-temper/picking fights (verbal or physical)
    • Abusing drugs/alcohol
    • Self harm in ANY form
    • Withdrawal/isolation
    • Appeared depressed or sad
    • Key words like what is the point, I wont be around to do this or that
    • Giving away possessions
    • Poorer performance in schools/not showing up


  • If you notice someone around you that might be struggling or dealing with something whether it is their mental health or anything they may be struggling with, try any or all of these- keep it simple.
    • Be there for someone
    • Be a friend-what would YOU want in this situation and try to do that
    • Don’t panic or show shock, fear
    • Don’t walk away from them
    • Ask them what you can do to help them
    • Focus on what’s strong in someone rather than what’s wrong
    • Provide hope
    • Share how you are feeling: not to take over, but relate – tell them you are proud and happy they reached out to you or talked to you
    • Be a good friend, good person
    • Watch aware of your language
    • Reach out and talk to someone-GET HELP