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Trigger Warning: The content below contains information on mental illness and suicide which some readers may find triggering. If you need support, please contact Crisis Services Canada: 1-833-456-4566

Adolescent Mental Health

Adolescence is a transitional phase of growth and development between childhood and adulthood. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines an adolescent as any person between ages 10 and 24.

Adolescence is a time in life where people become more independent, develop new relationships and social skills and learn behaviours that can impact the rest of their life. It is a critical time, and can be one of the most challenging periods in life.

According to Statistics Canada, teenagers and young adults aged 15-24 experience the highest incidence of mental disorders of any age group in Canada.

Source: [1]


  • It is estimated that 10-20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder – the single most disabling group of disorders worldwide.
  • Approximately 5% of male youth and 12% of female youth, age 12 to 19, have experienced a major depressive episode.
  • An estimated 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness.
  • Five students in every class of 30 have mental health issues.
  • By age 25, approximately 20 per cent of Canadians will have developed a mental illness.

Source: [2]

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder (sometimes referred to as manic-depressive illness) is a brain disorder that causes unusual or extreme shifts in mood, energy, activity levels and the ability to carry out daily tasks.

People with bipolar disorder experience unusually intense emotional states that occur in distinct periods called “mood episodes.” An overly joyful or overexcited state is called a manic episode, and an extremely sad or hopeless state is called a depressive episode. Sometimes, a mood episode includes symptoms of both mania and depression and is called a “mixed state.”


  • 1% of Canadians aged 15 years and over have reported symptoms that met the criteria for bipolar disorder. [4]
  • 1 in 50 adults aged 25-64 reported symptoms of bipolar disorder in their lifetime. [4]
  • Nearly 90% of those who reported symptoms of bipolar disorder reported the illness interfered with their lives. [4]
  • The risk of suicide among those with bipolar disorder is higher than the general population. [4]
  • 60.7% of those with bipolar disorder are susceptible to having a substance abuse issue. [5]

Depression and Anxiety

Depression is much more than simple unhappiness or a case of the blues. It is a mood disorder that involves the mind and body, affects how you feel, think and behave. Depression is a common condition that can affect people at various stages throughout their lives. It’s neither something you can simply “snap out” of nor a weakness.

The main symptoms of depression are feelings of sadness or unhappiness that are present most days and continue throughout the day. It can comprise of intense feelings of sadness and worthlessness, so bad that a person has lost interest in life. [5]

Anxiety is a normal part of life and can even be useful when it alerts us to danger. But for some, symptoms of anxiety are persistent and severe, interfering with daily activities such as work, school and sleep. This type of anxiety can disrupt relationships and enjoyment of life, and can lead to health concerns and other problems over time.

The main symptoms vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder, but common symptoms include; generalized overall anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, obsessions or post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders – anorexia (not eating), or bulimia (eating too much and then vomiting). [5]


  • Each year 5% of Canadians will experience clinical depression.
  • 8% of adults will have major depression in their lives. [3]
  • Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment. [3]
  • An estimated 3 million Canadians (11.6%) aged 18 years or older reported that they had a mood and/or anxiety disorder. [4]
  • 35% of those reported to have a mood and/or anxiety disorder have stopped working altogether because of their illness. [4]


Suicide means that someone ends their life on purpose. However, people who die by suicide or attempt suicide may not really want to end their life. Suicide may seem like the only way to deal with difficult feelings or situations.

The Most at-risk group for suicide is men in their 40s and 50s, and men over the age of 80 have the highest rate of suicide. While women are three to four times more likely to attempt suicide than men, men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women.

Suicide is a preventable complex public health issue that affects Canadians of all ages, sexes, ethnicities, income levels, and regions.

Source [7].


  • 12.3% of Canadians aged 15 years and older report having suicidal thoughts. [6]
  • Nearly 4,000 Canadians die each year by suicide, on average 10 suicides per day. [7]
  • For each death by suicide there are as many as 100 suicide attempts.
  • In Canada, suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds. [7]
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10-29 year olds in Canada. [6]


  1. WHO
  2. Youth Mental Health Canada
  3. MentalHealthCommission.ca
  4. Government of Canada
  5. Mood Disorders Society of Canada
  6. Government of Canada Suicide Progress Report 2018
  7. Canadian Mental Health Association

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Centre for Mental Health Sciences
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Whitby, Ontario
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Telephone: 905-430-4055
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