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Harper Government Announces Funding to Support Positive Mental Health in Communities Across Canada

Toronto, Ontario – June 8, 2011 – The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, today announced funding for 10 innovative, community-based projects to improve the mental health of Canadian children, youth and families across the country.

“We know that the early years of a person’s development can have a lasting impact on their mental health,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “As a parent, I know that children can be greatly influenced by their home and school environments. And that’s why it’s important to focus on educating parents, families and educators on how to create the best conditions for the good mental health for our kids.”The Government of Canada is providing over $27 million through the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Innovation Strategy to support projects that focus on fostering optimal mental health for children, youth and families in rural and northern communities, aboriginal communities, and those of low socio-economic status.

The projects address issues such as bullying, change and loss, substance abuse and suicide, and seek to strengthen family and community interactions and promote healthy relationships. The knowledge gained from these projects can also be shared with stakeholders in mental health promotion across the country and help shape future projects and programs.

The site of today’s announcement, the Hincks–Dellcrest Centre, is receiving more than $2.6 million to implement and test a Canadian-based training program for parents and caregivers called Handle with Care. Based out of Toronto, the project will involve 400 participants in 16 communities in Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Manitoba and the Yukon.

“We are extremely pleased to have received this funding,” said Nancy Cohen, Director of Research at the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre. “Supporting projects like Handle with Care helps families living in at risk communities get the support they need and helps those communities create the conditions that promote positive mental health.”

Through the Declaration on Prevention and Promotion, Canada’s Ministers of Health have agreed to make health promotion a priority for action. The Government of Canada is committed to working with partners—within and outside the health sector—to design and implement new approaches to promote the health and well-being of Canada’s children and youth.


Innovation Strategy — Mental Health

The Government of Canada, along with provinces, territories and community groups, is working to find better ways to promote mental health among Canadians.

Differences in economic circumstances, education, living conditions and the physical environment can prevent a proportion of our population from achieving optimal mental health and well-being. This includes children, youth and families living in northern, remote and rural communities.

Through the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Innovation Strategy, the Government of Canada funds projects that will help to reduce barriers to positive mental health among children, youth and families.

These projects, with funding over $27 million, will directly support positive mental health among children and youth through community-based education and family support. In addition, the information gained from these projects can contribute to a broader understanding of mental health promotion and be shared with communities and partners across Canada. Phase I of this initiative included development, initial implementation and early evaluation of 15 mental health projects, totaling approximately $4.2 million. Full implementation of projects in Phase II, totaling over $23 million, includes:

Improving the Emotional and Social Health of Children in their Community: Implications for Population Health

($2.8 million — Canadian Mental Health Association, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia)

Through this project, CMHA will implement a recognized school-based best practice, the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) program, in communities in Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Alberta. PATHS improves social relations, problem solving skills and academic performance of school-aged children (ages five to 12). The project will also expand PATH activities to include parents, teachers and community partners.

Développement et implantation d’un programme de promotion et de la santé mentale centré sur le mécanisme d’adaptation pour les enfants et l’école primaire

($2.5 million — Centre de recherche et d’interventions sur le suicide et l’euthanasie, Université du Québec à Montréal)

Based on an internationally recognized program, a new resource will be developed using illustrated stories that deal with friendship, communication, loneliness, bullying, change, loss and making a new start. The project will take place in urban and aboriginal settings across Quebec and focuses on children ages seven to 11.

Culturally-based family centered mental health promotion for Aboriginal youth

($2.6 million – McGill University, Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Montreal, QC)

This project will adapt and expand on a family-centered prevention program that is directly related to suicide prevention and will be supplemented with components addressing mental health literacy. The focus of the program will be on culturally-specific approaches to strengthening family relations in First Nations communities.

Handle with Care in At-Risk Communities: a program for parents and early childhood educators to promote young children’s mental health

($2.4 million – The Hincks-Dellcrest Centre, Toronto, Ontario)

This Canadian-based training program for parents and caregivers fosters the social and emotional health of children from birth to six years through links with families and the community. The program will serve communities in Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Ontario and the Yukon.

Community Partnerships for Youth Health

($223,535 — Across Boundaries: An Ethno-racial Mental Health Centre, Toronto, Ontario)

This four-month project will produce a set of resources for mental health promotion and will engage immigrant, refugee and ethno-cultural youth regarding promotion of their mental health. Web-based evaluation tools will also be produced to assess change in mental health literacy and school conditions.

The Fourth R: Promoting Youth Well Being Through Healthy Relationships

($2.5 million — Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, London, Ontario)

This school-based prevention program promotes healthy relationships and targets high-risk behaviour among adolescents. It will be implemented in low-income rural, urban, northern and Aboriginal communities at risk for mental health problems in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

Towards Flourishing: Improving Mental Health Among New Mothers in the Manitoba Families First Home Visiting Program

($2.6 million — University of Manitoba, Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, Community Health Sciences, Winnipeg)

Through home visits, this family-centred program emphasizes positive parenting, enhanced parent-child interaction, improved child health development and use of community resources. Phase II of the program will be implemented for families in urban, rural, northern, First Nations and Francophone communities.

Connecting the Dots: A Community-led Mental Health Promotion Project

($2.6 million — Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division, Vancouver, BC)

This project will help communities promote positive mental health, counter anxiety and depression, and prevent adolescent problem behaviours, such as substance abuse, delinquency and teen pregnancy. The project will be implemented in communities in British Columbia, Manitoba and Yukon.

Creating Responsive Communities to Promote Healthy Relationships in Young Children

($2.6 million — University of Victoria, Victoria, BC)

The Walk Away, Ignore, Talk it out, and Seek Help program (WITS) helps elementary school children and adults respond effectively to bullying. Phase II of the project will create a more comprehensive family, school and community approach to bullying prevention in sites across British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick.

Child and Youth Mental Health and Wellness Research, Intervention and Community Advocacy Project

($2.4 million – Qaujigiartiit Health Resource Centre, Iqaluit, Nunavut)

This project will raise awareness of mental health issues, provide a youth perspective on these issues, and support parents in raising healthy children and youth in communities in Nunavut. The project includes a summer camp for children (aged nine to 12) in up to six communities, helping youth become mental health researchers by documenting experiences in their communities, and working with health professionals, families and community members to create and share knowledge about mental health service needs for young people.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is funding these initiatives under its Innovation Strategy program. The Innovation Strategy supports population health innovation and learning through interventions which build practice-based evidence.

Contact Information

Health Canada
Cailin Rodgers
Office of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Federal Minister of Health
(613) 957-0200

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada
(613) 941-8189