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Improving Mental Health Services for Children and Youth

Archived Backgrounder

Improving Mental Health Services for Children and Youth

Ministry of Children and Youth Services

Approximately one in five Ontario children and youth has a mental health challenge. These young people young people dealing with issues such as anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, mood disorders, schizophrenia and eating disorders.

Starting With Kids

Early identification and intervention leads to improved school achievement, better health outcomes and cost-savings to the health care and social service systems. And 70 per cent of mental health issues have their onset in childhood and adolescence - which can lead to conflicts with family members, trouble in school and feelings of isolation. Left untreated, mental health issues become more serious and difficult to manage.

New Services and Supports

New services and supports focus on three key areas - fast access to high-quality services, early identification and support, and help for vulnerable kids with unique needs. Over 50,000 kids and their families will benefit from the significant investments that will total $257 million over the next three years.

Fast Access to High-quality Services

  • Helping community-based agencies to hire more workers to serve an additional 13,000 kids and reduce wait lists
  • Establishing a directory to help families find services in their communities
  • Developing and implementing a wait-time strategy to track and reduce wait times
  • Training workers at mental health agencies on the use of short-term therapies so help can be provided more quickly
  • Improving service and accountability through the introduction of standards and performance measures

Early Identification and Support

  • Training and resources to help educators, social workers and other professionals work together to identify kids with mental health issues sooner
  • Placing mental health workers and nurses with mental health expertise in schools, benefiting more than 9,000 more children and youth
  • Developing a resource guide and website to provide elementary and secondary school teachers with information on the early signs of mental health issues
  • Helping school boards work with community partners to deliver mental health services and provide mental health literacy training for all educators in the province

Vulnerable Kids with Unique Needs

  • Expanding and enhancing telepsychiatry mental health services to rural, remote and underserved communities - benefiting 800 more kids and their families.
  • Hiring new Aboriginal mental health workers to provide culturally appropriate services to 4,000 more Aboriginal children and youth
  • Hiring more mental health court workers to keep 2,300 youth out of the justice system and referring them instead to community-based services, such as anger management and clinical counselling
  • Increasing inpatient and outpatient services for 300 more kids with eating disorders
  • Hiring more service coordination workers to help children and youth with complex mental health needs access multiple services quickly and easily
  • Providing more mental health workers in colleges and universities to help more than 16,000 youth make an easier transition from secondary to post-secondary school settings.

Ontario's comprehensive Strategy for Mental Health and Addiction puts kids first. It will strengthen services, expand supports, build awareness and capacity within the education system and create a more integrated and responsive system for children and youth with mental health challenges and their families.

Additional Resources

Media Contacts



Health and Wellness Home and Community Children and Youth People with Disabilities