The Kids Are Not Alright

We are in the midst of a national mental health care crisis. While one in four Canadians are experiencing a mental health or substance use health challenges issue right now, of those, only one in three will seeks access to care. And of those, only one in five will have their needs fully met. 

Youth are particularly vulnerable to mental illness. With 70 per cent of mental health problems beginning during childhood or adolescence, it is essential that youth receive early intervention and the mental health care, innovation, and treatment they need. In Canada, mental health challenges amongst youth are at epidemic proportions.

Ottawa is facing a mental health crisis like nothing we have ever seen. Referrals to The Royal have tripled since the start of the pandemic. 

These statistics, coupled with the longstanding partnership and dedication to improving the mental health of our youth, gave RBC and The Royal an innovative idea – inspire and educate post-secondary students on how to take better care of their mental health by creating a free, one day virtual event in honour of World Mental Health Day. 

Mental health challenges affects 1.2 million Canadian youth, and fewer than 20 per cent of Canadian youth suffering from a mental health challenges receive the treatment they need. 

For almost a year, student leaders, clinical advisers and event planners from post-secondary schools across eastern Ontario, have met to plan, “In This Together,” a free, bilingual, day-long mental health symposium. Students, coaches, teachers, parents – anyone with youth in their life will benefit from the learning and engagement planned for Oct. 6, 2022. 

Hosted by three-time Olympian, Jennifer Botterill, clinical experts will highlight topics like, digital dependency, the lifelong journey of resiliency, and find your ‘why.’ 

“We recognize the importance of mental well-being on a young person’s ability to achieve success,” says Marjolaine Hudon, RBC Regional President, Ontario North and East. “Through our partnership with The Royal, ‘In This Together’ provides mental health support and services to address current barriers to care. Including, low recognition of early signs of mental health struggles, lack of peer support networks and how to access care when it’s needed most.”

As a leader of the mental health care system in eastern Ontario, The Royal combines the delivery of specialized mental health care, advocacy, research, and education, collaborating with community partners to transform the lives of people with complex and treatment-resistant mental health challenges. Our mandate is simple: to get more people living with mental health and substance use health challenges into recovery faster.

Mental health care is chronically underfunded in our province. Despite mental health challenges accounting for about 10 per cent of the burden of disease in Ontario, it receives just seven per cent of health care dollars. Mental health care in Ontario is underfunded by about $1.5 billion. 

While a long-term solution will take structural change at multiple levels in the health care system, we must start addressing many of these needs in our region now. With the support of our donors and community partners, we are always activating new initiatives to address this crisis.  

One of the biggest challenges for youth in need of mental health services is knowing how to access the support they need. In the past, navigation has been confusing, referrals have been hard to come by, and wait lists have been long. That has resulted in youth losing hope long before they even have a chance to take the first step toward mental wellness. A goal of “In This Together” is to help our youth learn some resources that are available to them. 

According to Statistics Canada, the pandemic has significantly impacted the mental health of Canadians, with youth experiencing the greatest declines.

Our goal at The Royal is to expand access, hope, and new possibilities for people with mental health and substance use health needs, through the convergence of client and family-oriented care, science, education, and lived expertise.  Events like “In This Together” with community leaders and partners like RBC help achieve this goal. 

We envision a future where there’s no distinction between our physical and our mental care, where those who need help are given timely access to the resources they need, where the treatment options available bring a spark of hope, and where the possibilities for treatment are personalized, effective, and innovative.