Mental health is not only the avoidance of mental health conditions. Your mental health is affected by numerous factors from your daily life, including the stress of balancing work with your health and relationships. In this section you will find resources to help you stay mentally fit and healthy across the lifespan.
Children and Youth
Approximately 1 in 5 children and youth in Ontario have a mental health challenge. It is also estimated that about 70% of mental health challenges have their onset in childhood or youth. Children and youth show their problems in different areas of their lives and in a variety of ways. For example, a child or adolescent who functions well at home may face challenges in another setting, such as in the classroom or with peers that may negatively impact their mental health. Some young people may show signs of anxiety or depression, while others may exhibit aggression, become involved with the justice system, or have difficulties with substance use. Find more information about child and youth mental health and services in Ontario.
CMHA Ontario is actively involved in a number of different initiatives aimed at supporting mental health of children and youth. Funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, CMHA Ontario led the Working with Children and Youth with Complex Mental Health Needs project, which was aimed at supporting direct service providers of children and youth by enhancing their skills in core service areas. In 2015, HIGH FIVE, in collaboration with CMHA Ontario launched the new in-person training, Strengthening Children’s Mental Health, for anyone running children’s programs to provide more education on positive mental health in children. CMHA Ontario also partnered with Ontario Hockey League to launch Talk Today in 2014 to raise awareness about suicide and promoting the mental health of young athletes.
Everyone experiences periods of positive and negative mental health throughout the duration of their life. Some people live with mental health conditions like anxiety and mood disorders and experience periods of wellness and periods of poor mental health. Other individuals may not be living with a mental health condition, but can still experience periods of wellness mixed with periods of mental wellness.
Whether living with a mental health condition, or experiencing periods of poor mental health, there are a wide range of services and programs available for the adults in Ontario to improve their mental health. One such program is the Living Life to the Full, which is an eight-session mental health promotion course that is based on cognitive behavior therapy that teaches participants how to face every-day challenges by learning self-management skills. Other programs and services available may include talk therapy, case management, supportive housing, employment support programs, addictions and gambling services.
The social determinants of health are life factors and circumstances that can impact our mental health both positively and negatively. These factors can include a person’s education history, early life experiences, employment and working conditions, housing, race, sexual orientation among many others. The social determinants of health can support us in living with positive mental health like family, friends and a stable job. The social determinants of health may also negatively impact our mental health such as food insecurity, poor working conditions or unemployment, and discrimination because of race or disability.
Up to 30% of Ontarians aged 65+ has a mental health issue, and there is growing evidence that the incidence of mental illnesses is increasing in older adults. Some seniors already have a mental health issue from earlier in life. For others, changes such as loss of loved ones, retirement, and decreasing social support networks can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety in later life.
At CMHA Ontario, we aim to promote and maintain seniors’ mental health through the Living Life to the Full project. Living Life to the Full was piloted with an older adult population across Ontario with the support of local CMHA branches and older adult centres. The program allowed older adults to meet new people, talk about their mental health, and gain new skills for coping with stress. Living Life to the Full continues to be delivered across Ontario to all ages, including seniors.
CMHA Ontario is also part of an important Toronto impact plan known as ENRICHES that works to specifically support caregivers over the age of 55. Similar to the older adult pilot, CMHA Ontario is supporting the mental health of caregivers through the Living Life to the Full course. The program is teaching caregivers that they are not alone in their struggles, and allows them to take care of themselves, while caring for others. Living Life to the Full will continue to be offered for free to caregivers living in Toronto for the duration of the project, closing October 2018.