Many mental illnesses – particularly depression – can first develop at a very young age.
In fact, more than half of adult depression manifests before the age of 14, and over 70% of adults with depression report having symptoms by the age of 18.
Meanwhile, in Canada, youth suicide rates are amongst the highest in the industrialized world, with suicide accounting for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds.
Because adolescence and young adulthood is such a vulnerable time for the development of mental health disorders -- and since the results of these disorders, left untreated, can be devastating – dedicated research into early intervention and prevention is critical.
Research-informed treatment and prevention strategies for youth can help to reduce suffering, improve health, and positively impact the entire trajectory of young people’s lives.
Adolescence is the time in people’s lives where their brains are continuing to grow and develop – giving us the greatest window to effectively intervene.
The IMHR’s Youth Mental Health Research Unit is strongly focused on better understanding the risk and resilience factors involved in the early onset and maintenance of mental health disorders in children and adolescents, in order to help inform and improve clinical treatment and prevention strategies.
The unit’s overarching goals, through applied research, are to effect systems-wide transformative change that supports early identification and intervention of mental illness; to improve the experience of care and the overall mental health care system; and to help young people get mentally healthy before they reach adulthood.
Research is largely community-based, and focuses on engaging young people in research and planning efforts wherever possible.
Together with The Royal’s Youth Program, the IMHR’s Youth Mental Health Research Unit has developed a specialized outpatient clinic for young people with anxiety disorders, where ongoing research studies provide clinical participants with cutting-edge or innovative treatments (under close medical supervision). This contributes significantly to the clinical services available for youth at The Royal.