Government of Canada invests $6.5 million in research to support the health and mental wellbeing of young children

Press Release

From: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

May 4, 2023

The Government of Canada is committed to improving the health and mental wellbeing of children and youth in Canada. Early childhood experiences influence a child’s mental health for life—and with 70% of mental health and substance use problems having origins in childhood, understanding how to better identify and treat young children at risk of developing or living with a mental health issue is crucial.

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced an investment of $6.5 million over five years for six projects funded through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Mental Health in the Early Years (MHITEY) initiative. MHITEY, led by the CIHR’s Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health, will help to advance Canada’s mental health strategy by identifying solutions for safe and equitable programs and services for diverse populations, and through adopting, adapting and improving the use of evidence-based practices in clinical, community, and public health settings.

The funded research projects will create early childhood development assessment tools and training materials for Indigenous communities in Canada; a program to support mothers who use substances and their young children; an effective method for communities to develop their own “early years” mental health programs to ensure at-risk children and families get the right support where and when they need it; and two online apps to support parents and their preschool-aged children overcome challenges such as anxiety, anger, depression and sleep problems.

Today’s announcement builds on the investments made by the Government of Canada in Budget 2023, including our investment of nearly $200 billion over 10 years to improve health care services for Canadians, reduce surgical backlogs, support health workers, and improve integrated mental health and substance use services. We will continue to do whatever it takes to ensure that all Canadians, including children and youth, have the mental health and substance use supports they need and deserve.


“Having a healthy childhood is so important for laying down the foundation for the rest of your life. We are committed to improving the mental wellbeing and health services provided to children in Canada. These projects funded today will help improve access to care and support the mental health of young children exposed to experiences, such as family violence, abuse, poverty, and low income. Congratulations to all the grant recipients.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

“There is a great need for more inclusive access to mental health services and community-based prevention and treatment strategies across Canada. We are so fortunate to have CHEO right here in Ottawa who works with community organizations to offer mental health services for children and youth—including counselling for addictions and eating disorders and support for parents and caregivers.”

The Honourable David J. McGuinty
Member of Parliament for Ottawa South<

“Supporting research that will enable provision of evidence-based, culturally appropriate interventions that are readily available for young children and their caregivers can have a positive impact on childhood mental health and decrease future health and social risks. The work of the MHITEY teams will support Canada’s continued progress in expanding and implementing solutions to support child and family mental health.”

Dr. Christine Chambers
Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health

“Depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other mental illnesses in kids have grown sharply in this era of social media and mobile phones, only to be exacerbated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The  daily experiences on the frontlines at  CHEO are supported by our cutting-edge mental health research that clearly illustrates too many kids are not okay. Investments like this in childhood mental health research, along with increased federal funding to right-size pediatric health care, are needed so that CHEO can continue to meet growing demands and provide evidence-based, innovative health care for our kids.”

Dr. Jason Berman
CEO and Scientific Director, CHEO Research Institute, and Vice-President, Research

Quick facts

  • 1 in 5 Canadians experience mental health or addiction problems in any given year. Currently, fewer than 20% of the 1.2 million children experiencing mental health issues are receiving appropriate treatment and care.
  • CIHR-IHDCYH is investing in research targeted at addressing mental health in the early years.
  • The MHITEY initiative comprised of three funding opportunities.
  • The five team grants received up to $1,250,000 each and will fund implementation science research in early childhood mental health to help understand how to improve evidence-based mental health interventions for young children (ages 0-5) and their caregivers. Implementation science is the study of how to put evidence-based interventions into practice.
  • The Knowledge Development and Exchange (KDE) Hub received $500,000 to support the five teams by providing knowledge mobilization expertise and support through the expansion of their existing child and youth focused mental health work. The KDE Hub is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Associated links


Maja Staka
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research


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