Youth and Mental Health 101

Mental health: Definitions and use of language

Youth mental health and mental illness



Positive mental health is the ability to feel, think and act in ways that help us enjoy life and cope with the challenges we face.1 Most Canadian youth (three out of four Canadians age 12 to 19) say their mental health is “very good” or “excellent,”2 while 10 to 20 per cent of Canadian youth experience mental illnesses.3 Poor mental health can result from genetics, biology, environments, stressful events and other experiences, such as trauma, as well as any combination of these elements. Mental health challenges are often invisible—people may be struggling with their mental health, and you may only know if they tell you directly.

Mental health challenges can alter your thinking, mood and behaviours, and may impact your day-to-day functioning. Mental health challenges can include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, as well as substance use challenges.4 With the proper resources and support, it is possible to build on your inner strengths and work toward recovery.


1. PHAC, 2018

2. CIHI, 2015; MHCC, 2015

3. YMHC, 2018

4. PHAC, 2015a