Two outstanding mental health initiatives for youth launched in June

23 June 2014

On behalf of The Sandbox Project, I attended June receptions celebrating two outstanding mental health and wellness initiatives for children and youth. Sunnybrook has launched a unique navigational service to guide and support families who have youth struggling with mental health and addictions concerns. Companies Committed to Kids launched a series of awareness raising public service announcements that reveal some fundamental truths about kids’ mental health.

The goal of the Family Navigation Project is to improve access to treatment for youth aged 13 to 26, and to support their families, so they receive the help they need.

“Families don’t know where to go or how to find the services their children need. Parents have told us they’ve waited months for help, only to be told they’re in the wrong line,” says Dr. Anthony Levitt, medical director and co-founder of the new Family Navigation Project at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

The Family Navigation Project is a call-in and email program that partners “navigators” (clinically trained health professionals) with youth and their families, to guide them through the complex mental healthcare system, and connect them to the right services. The navigator also follows up with the family throughout the journey.

Studies confirm nearly 70 per cent of mental health and addiction issues have their onset in adolescence, and without timely and appropriate care, these concerns frequently develop into lifelong struggles that can drastically impact individual and family health.

“Timing is of critical importance in finding the right treatment program for young people struggling with mental health challenges and yet only one in five of these young Canadians gets access to the specialized care and treatment they need,” says Jeanne Foot, the Chair of the Parent Advisory Council, a group that help to set up the Family Navigation Project.

Sunnybrook’s Family Navigation Project is a real breakthrough in helping children struggling with mental illness and addiction get the treatment they need. The Sandbox Project is a strong supporter of innovative approaches that overcome obstacles to care for children and youth.

Companies Committed to Kids' (CCK) new national public awareness campaign on children’s mental wellness is aimed a parents.

The campaign spotlights an important but overlooked contributor to children’s mental health: healthy relationships. In particular, a positive child-parent bond as a key to kids’ long-term mental wellness.

“Quality parent-child relationships are critical to a child’s mental health,” confirms Dr. Wendy Craig, a psychology professor at Queen’s University. “The research tells us that what parents say and do can have a significant beneficial or detrimental effect on their children’s mental well-being.” 

“CCK’s new mental wellness campaign for kids reminds us of the fundamental importance, and actions that parents can take, to promote their children’s healthy mental well-being,” says Hampson. “A positive healthy child-parent relationship is the best preventive medicine for potential mental health issues later in life."

Five facts about children’s health (Source: CCK)

  1. Up to 1 in 5 Canadian kids are affected by a mental health issue.
  2. Only 50 per cent of Canadian kids in grade 6 report a high level of emotional well-being. That number drops to 26 per cent by grade 10.
  3. Fifty per cent of adults with mental wellness issues report that the problem started before 14 years of age.
  4. Youth mental disorders are ranked 2nd highest in hospital expenditure care in Canada.
  5. The presence of a strong parent/child relationship matters in 23 of 24 health behaviors for kids, including emotional wellness, making healthy choices, and positive social interactions.

For more information on the FNP, please visit

To see CCK’s PSAs, please visit