The kids are not alright. They need free mental health care now.  A girl and woman have their foreheads touching and their eyes closed.

February 17, 2023

On Family Day, families urged to press government to protect our children and give them the mental health care they need  


Toronto, ON (February 17, 2023) – Kids are not okay. The pandemic caused extreme stress for our children. They’re getting sicker because they can’t get mental health care when they need it. In anticipation of Family Day on February 20, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), in partnership with BGC Canada and YMCA Canada, is urging parents to tell government that its work is not done. 

In Canada, 3 in 4 children with a mental health issue can’t get the care they need. That’s because the care is either unavailable or isn’t covered by public health insurance. Further to this, more than half of young Canadians who sought mental health services said they weren’t easy to access, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.   

“Underfunding, patchwork services and people not knowing where to go are just some of the inequities that youth are experiencing when accessing care,” says Margaret Eaton, CMHA National CEO. “Our system forces children to get very sick before we give them mental health care. This is an irrational and cruel way to offer care.” Eaton goes on to say: “Children need upfront and ongoing care, and it must be covered by public health insurance and available at the community level, not just in hospitals and doctor offices.”   

Adding to the current mental health crisis, our kids are worried about the compounding effects of climate change. A 2021 study by The Lancet revealed that more than 45% of children and youth said their feelings about climate change negatively affected their daily life and functioning. Further to this, 75% said that they think the future is frightening while 83% said that they think adults have failed to take care of the planet.    

“Canada is failing our children and youth. Our kids are in crisis and parents have nowhere to turn,” says Eaton. “It’s time we turn to the Prime Minister and demand that he Act for Mental Health to ensure community-based services and supports are properly funded and available to all Canadians free of charge, where they need them and when they need them. Our children, and everyone in Canada, deserve universal mental health care.”   

“The BGC Canada National Youth Council recognizes that Canadian youth are feeling helpless and isolated. As the world continues to grapple with the psychosocial impact of the pandemic, it can be overwhelming to reach out for help. Canadian youth need help more now than ever.” – Valentina Shamoun, National Youth Council Member, BGC Canada. 

“The link between mental health and overall well-being is clear. If we truly want Canada to be the healthiest country for children to grow up in, we need to approach access to mental health differently than we are today. We call on the Government to make this a priority and make it easier for families to get the mental health care they need for their children.” – Peter Dinsdale, President & CEO, YMCA Canada