Harper Government Invests to Improve Access to Mental Health Services for Children and Youth

For immediate release -2012-08

Ottawa (February 15, 2012) – The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health today announced that researchers will be tackling the issue of improving access to mental health services for Canadian children and youth thanks to federal funding.

“Investing in mental health is an important step in promoting good health and preventing illness, disability and injury, to help children and youth have the healthiest possible start in life,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “The goal is to develop initiatives that provide mental health services in schools, communities, and hospitals, and ultimately help young people get the help they need sooner.”“We are particularly interested, for example, to know more about whether Canadian children and youth are being adequately served by existing mental health programs and if there are any further initiatives that can be created to better address their needs,” said Dr. Shoo Lee, incoming Scientific Director for CIHR’s Institute of Human Development and Child and Youth Health. “Our explicit objective is to address the emotional, psychological or behavioural problems of Canadian children and youth.”

The three funded projects will focus on:

a. How depression is detected and screened in schools and medical settings for children and adolescents, and if the treatments and screening itself are contributing to better health outcomes.
b. Providing an online tool, to assist mental health service providers to access the most up-to-date, evidence-based information that will help them make better decisions about mental health policy, programs, and service delivery for children and adolescents.
c. Looking at the range of e-mental health services available (interventions delivered using Internet technologies) and identifying whether they are working well, being effectively used and fully available to all Canadian children, to better inform decision makers.

More than 14 percent of Canadian children and adolescents have at least one clinically significant mental health problem, and as many as 50 to 70 percent of these disorders persist into adulthood. The range of mental health problems could include: depression/anxiety, problematic substance use (tobacco, alcohol, and illicit prescription drug), eating disorders, gambling problems, risk of suicide, and autism.

Funding is provided for these initiatives through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is a strong partner and supporter of this initiative. Their mission is to promote mental health in Canada, and work with stakeholders to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems, and to improve services and support.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada’s health research investment agency. CIHR’s mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 14,100 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

Fact Sheet

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Further Information:
David Coulombe, Media Relations, CIHR, 613-941-4563, [email protected]

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