Children and Youth Need Our Help Now
It takes a family to support child and youth mental health. Now more than ever.
We are a Canada-wide circle of support charting brighter courses for early intervention in child and youth mental health.
Often, families can feel like child and youth mental health challenges need to stay in the family however a family’s circle of support is bigger than they think. Let’s create a new definition of family. One that includes hospital workers, community members, 24/7 resources and even your local grocery store. We are all family, uniting for one cause - child and youth mental health.
In 2020 we launched our inaugural partnership with thirteen children’s hospital foundations, the Sobey Foundation and 134,000 Sobeys Inc. teammates. It is a ground-breaking partnership that funds programs to help kids while they're still kids, giving them the best possible chance to thrive.
The 13 Children’s Hospitals from coast to coast are implementing a diverse range of innovative local child and youth mental health programs. These programs are working to decrease stigma, strengthen families, and help more children and youth access the help they need. Each program has a regional focus addressing urgent needs within the communities they serve.
Our newest partnership with Kids Help Phone was announced in May, 2022 and supports two community-based mental health programs from Kids Help Phone, RiseUp and Finding Hope, to connect Black and Indigenous youth to real-time virtual counselling and crisis help. Each program provides 24/7 support for vulnerable youth. With Sobeys Inc.’s support, the RiseUp and Finding Hope programs have significant growth plans to help even more youth in Canada.
RiseUp, powered by Kids Help Phone in partnership with the BlackNorth initiative, is Canada’s only 24/7, bilingual e-mental health support for Black youth, which addresses their unique struggles and experiences compounded by anti-Black systemic racism. The RiseUp program, in collaboration with community partners, focuses on supporting the Black community and Afro-diaspora. RiseUp facilitated 24,000 phone and text conversations with Black youth in 2021, with a goal to grow to 60,000 conversations by 2025.
Finding Hope is a national action plan focused on creating capacity for Kids Help Phone to better connect with Indigenous youth – who face some of the most difficult mental health challenges in Canada, and significant barriers to accessing services and connection. Finding Hope is led, co-created and governed by an Indigenous Advisory Council, connecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities with Indigenous volunteers and counsellors. Finding Hope’s goal is to connect Indigenous youth to virtual counselling and crisis response programs one million times by 2025.
Kids Help Phone
Each program provides 24/7 support for vulnerable youth, with the support of volunteer champions, counsellors and community advisors from Black and Indigenous communities. With Sobeys Inc.’s support, the RiseUp and Finding Hope programs have significant growth plans to help even more youth in Canada.
Canada’s Children’s Hospital Foundations
13 children’s hospital foundations. One vision for early intervention.
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased stress, isolation, and reports of abuse while moving care out of reach for many. This partnership is more vital than ever as we work to support kids and families who need us.
Mental Health Issues are Widespread
One in four are vulnerable. Among kindergarten-aged children in Canada, 27.6% are identified as vulnerable on at least one measure of emotional, social and cognitive development – a ‘code red’ indicator according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada. (Source - Offord Centre for Child Studies, McMaster University)
A million Canadian children and youth need our help. About 20% of Canadian youth have a mental disorder; early intervention is important to helping them achieve good outcomes. (Source - Canadian Institute for Health Information)
Services Are Struggling to Keep Pace
The system was trying to catch up even before the pandemic. In Canada, only 1 in 5 children who needs mental health services receives them. (Source - Mental Health Commission of Canada 2013)
Wait times are too long, causing harm. Experts say a clinically acceptable time frame for diagnosis of mood and anxiety disorders is less than a year after symptom onset. Only 38% of Canadians receives a diagnosis in that window; the delay is longer for younger kids. (Source - Public Health Agency of Canada: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5650019/)
Young People Deserve Better Outcomes
More children and youth die by suicide than from the top 10 fatal diseases combined. In Canada, suicide is the leading cause of death in children aged 10 to 14 and the second-leading cause of death among youth aged 15 to 24. (Source - Canadian Mental Health Association)
Although investments in prevention and early interventions have the greatest potential to reduce the harm mental illness causes, acute care demands a large share of the resources allocated to mental health. The result is that most children and youth facing mental illness cannot access services until their issues escalate to a crisis. Insufficient investment in early interventions causes demand for inpatient and emergency care to grow, as prospects for good outcomes
That’s where the A Family of Support: Child and Youth Mental Health Initiative comes in - together we aspire to break this cycle.
A National Partnership with Local Impact
Children’s hospitals tend to be a family’s first point of contact with mental health care professionals. These children’s hospitals are usually the largest local mental health care providers. Many referrals to mental health services come from departments across the hospitals. Children’s hospitals deliver much needed care, including:
- Being home to world-leading experts.
- Driving research that puts new knowledge and tools in the hands of frontline care providers.
- Partnering with local communities to build mental health care capacity across the system through education and outreach.
- Pivotal anchor points for regional telepsychiatry networks that extend into remote communities.
Canada’s Children’s Hospital Foundation Programs
Our investment in early intervention child and youth mental health can be transformational. We’ll work to help to decrease the chronic health burden on children and their families. We'll work to help to reduce family stress. And we'll work to help to improve quality of life and health outcomes.
We will make a difference by focusing on four measurable outputs that will drive four key outcomes. Each hospital has committed to increasing and measuring one or more of the following through their supported program:
More treatment spaces
More patients served
More people trained
Fifteen programs are taking place at children’s hospitals across the country, made possible through profound support. Combined from the Sobey Foundation, Sobeys Inc., 129,000 teammates, and millions of generous customers. And these programs ladder back to our two pillars focused on early interventions:
- Care: Right care. Right place. Right Time.
- Education & Training: Increasing capacity for care.
We’ll share real-time milestones, key learnings, and successes. We’ll not only measure results, but also the longer-term program impacts. Impacts carefully identified by mental health leaders and clinicians across all 13 children’s hospitals.
At the highest level, it is our hope that the programs identified to date will decrease the chronic health burden. Of both children and their families to help reduce family stress, lower health care and social costs, and improve quality of life and health outcomes. Ultimately, they will allow more children and families to navigate their mental health challenges and grow into healthy adults.
Our Hospital Foundations
From coast to coast, this initiative brings together 13 children's hospital foundations to address the urgent need to improve child and youth mental health.
Advancing and Personalizing Treatment
- Foundational Discovery Platform to improve and create more effective mental health therapies.
- Innovative research located at the future Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health aimed at understanding paediatric and mental health.
Enhancing Urgent Mental Health Services
- Creating mental health services within the emergency department.
- Includes a 24/7 helpline support and a separate walk-in clinic space to increase timely, child-centred mental health support.
Partnerships to Transform Care – The Learning Link
- Creating a physical and virtual hub of expertise for Nova Scotian and Maritime clinician and community partners.
- Helping increase access to high quality mental health and addiction services across Atlantic Canada.
Mental Health Education Strategy
- Supporting the education and training of healthcare providers and educators across the province.
- Address gaps in mental health services, strengthen capacity and help ensure children and youth receive the timely mental health support they need.
Creating Care that’s Closer to Home
- New Urgent Tele-mental Health Service.
- Supporting children and adolescents in rural and Indigenous communities across Manitoba.
Knowing the Signs – Prospect Program
- Supporting youth who are at risk of developing psychosis.
- Ensuring early interventions are put in place to help patients have improved health outcomes.
Supporting Children & Youth with Suicidal Thoughts
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) to help kids better regulate their emotions.
- Head to Toe (H2T) program to provide timely mental health assessments.
Reducing Teen Suicide – I Am Safe program
- New innovative psychotherapy program addressing the urgent need for effective suicide prevention strategies.
- Helping to improve family communication, reduce conflict, and increase coping skills.
Providing a Success Roadmap – Neuropsychological Assessment
- A program for patients whose physical illnesses put them at elevated risk of brain and mental health challenges.
- Adapting delivery models to create an innovative hybrid of virtual and in-person assessment models to meet patients where they are.
Making Care More Accessible
- Improved treatment for two critical mental health challenges — obesity and eating disorders.
- Developing a unique Family Based Therapy (FBT) to help treat eating disorders.
Creating Excellent Care
- A Range of facility improvements including virtual reality (VR) treatments for children and youth with anxiety disorder and other mental health conditions.
- Expanding training for people delivering mental health care.
Creating Safe Environments for Care
- New Mental Health Intensive Care Room in the Emergency Department.
- Short-stay crisis care for children and youth experiencing acute mental health challenges.
- Providing a safe, calming environment for children and youth in crisis.
One call to a child mental health helpline can make a difference.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources that are available. For immediate assistance with a youth’s or child’s mental health, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.
If you need immediate assistance call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.