“Right-Sizing” Child and Youth Mental Health Systems Could Save Canada $28 Billion Annually

Press Release

December 14, 2023

Ottawa – A new report released today “Nurturing Minds for Secure Futures”, reveals long delays in access to child and youth mental health services (specifically looking at services to treat anxiety and depression) is conservatively costing Canada $4 billion annually. This figure reflects expenses to publicly funded health systems, the education sector, justice systems as well as forgone employment income of parents and caregivers.

The report confirms 1.6 million children and youth living in Canada have a diagnosis of anxiety or depression, a number that almost certainly underestimates prevalence given challenges associated with accessing mental health services, including timely assessments, diagnoses and treatments. The report goes on to say that children and youth who are Black, Indigenous, people of colour, and those navigating their sexual and gender identities face disproportionately higher rates of anxiety and depression, placing them at elevated risk.

Without timely investments, the Conference Board of Canada projects the lifetime costs of children experiencing anxiety and/or depression at the age of 10 could approach a staggering $1 trillion. The report underscores the importance of early investments to bend this cost curve. Investments today in child and youth mental health could save Canada $28 billion annually, while nurturing the well-being and securing the futures of young people from coast to coast.

“This report serves as a clarion call for action on behalf of Canada’s children and youth,” says Emily Gruenwoldt, President and CEO of Children’s Healthcare Canada. “We have the opportunity to rewrite the future. If we act promptly to invest in and right-size health systems serving children, we not only improve their physical and mental health outcomes, we also save health systems and families, billions of dollars.”

“Timely access to mental health services for children is crucial, and the current challenges are exacerbated by longstanding issues and the impact of the pandemic,” stated Chad Leaver, Director, Health and Human Capital, at The Conference Board of Canada. “Addressing mental health needs requires not just catching up but surpassing pre-pandemic efforts to ensure swift and comprehensive support for children and youth.”

Recommendations outlined in the report emphasize the urgency for strategic actions:

  • Development and funding of a pan-Canadian child health strategy, with mental health identified as a key pillar.
  • Dedication of resources towards evidence-informed, outcomes-based programs that cater to the unique needs of vulnerable populations.
  • Investments in the highly-specialized mental health workforce serving children and youth.
  • Establishment of a national data strategy for child and youth mental health to drive progress, ensure excellence, and foster accountability.

Nurturing Minds for Secure Futures is accessible at the link here. To speak with healthcare professionals, please contact Children’s Healthcare Canada.

Media Contacts:

Marjolaine Provost,
Senior Communications Advisor,

About Children’s Healthcare Canada

Children’s Healthcare Canada is the national association representing organizations providing health services to children and youth across the continuum of care. With the combined strength of our members, we advance collective strategic priorities to inform the development of innovative and integrated health systems for Canada’s eight million children and youth.

About The Conference Board of Canada

The Conference Board of Canada is the country’s leading independent research organization. Since 1954, The Conference Board of Canada has been providing research that supports evidence-based decision making to solve Canada’s toughest problems


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