Improving Mental Health Services for Ontario's Children and Youth

Endoresed in:

May, 2017

Paper Type:

Policy Paper


  • Austin Yan (University of Ottawa)
  • Annie Wang (University of Toronto)
  • Asha Behdinan (University of Toronto)
  • Tanishq Suryavanshi (McMaster University)


Mental illness and addiction affect one in five Canadians, with an impact in Ontario that is 1.5 times that of cancer. The onset of mental illness is typically during childhood or adolescence; the majority of these individuals do not receive timely, adequate care, causing preventable suffering for these young patients and their families. At the end of 2016, over 12,000 children in Ontario were waiting for long-term psychotherapy with wait times lasting up to 18 months. During these long wait times, children and youth deteriorate, with their mental health illnesses often progressing. This paper outlines recommendations and rationale that aim to address the needs of children and youth and those requiring transitional care as they seek mental health services in Ontario.


  • Set provincial standards and monitor wait times for children and youth accessing mental health services.
  • Improve mental health care for vulnerable youth moving from adolescent to adult health care systems.