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Themes of Youth Wellbeing

Health & Wellness

Photo of a female youth working out.

Ontario wants all young people to be happy, physically healthy, emotionally resilient and able to make positive life choices. Healthy young people are better equipped to learn, develop and build the skills they need to succeed as adults. They also have a lower risk of chronic disease and illness, which can reduce demands on health care. Through early identification of illness and by giving support, the long-term health and wellness of young people can be enhanced.

Outcomes #1, 2, 3

Ontario wants youth to:

This year, Ontario encouraged young people to be healthy and well by focusing on getting kids active, expanding mental health supports and reducing unhealthy choices. Its programs and policies have made progress in the following areas:

New in 2014–2015

Supporting Youth to be Physically Healthy

This year, Ontario continued to create opportunities for young people to get active and form healthy habits. Supporting youth health and well-being also involves recognizing that some young people need more assistance than others.

What the Data Says

Data from the 2015 Profile

  • 76.7% of youth are a healthy weight.
  • 68% of youth are physically active.
  • 41.3% of youth consume at least five servings of fruits or vegetables daily.

New in 2014–2015

Supporting Youth to be Mentally Well

Ontario supported young people to feel mentally well by identifying risk factors early and supporting young people to develop the skills they need to deal with challenges as they happen. This year, Ontario expanded services to promote awareness, reduce stigma and ensure more youth get the support they need.

Ontario is moving forward on the next phase of the government’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy. This phase focuses on supporting the transition between youth and adult services and improving the quality of services. It includes reducing wait-times; providing more supportive housing spaces; improving supports for youth with eating disorders; and working to increase awareness, fight stigma, and promote mental health in schools and the workplace. Other aspects of the strategy are as follows:

What the Data Says

Data from the 2015 Profile

  • 6% of youth are experiencing anxiety and/or depression.
  • 26% of youth are experiencing elevated psychological distress.
  • 13.4% of youth had serious thoughts about suicide in the past year.

New in 2014–2015

Understanding and Addressing Risk Taking

Young people learn as they try new things and take risks. This year, Ontario helped young people make healthy choices and avoid harmful risks by changing the laws and practices relating to physical and sexual health, tobacco, e-cigarettes and food choices.

What the Data Says

Data from the 2015 Profile

  • 8.5% of youth smoke cigarettes.
  • 19.8% of youth have recently consumed excessive alcohol.
  • 30.7% of youth have used any illicit drug.
  • 2.6% of youth have had a sexually transmitted infection.

Case Study

YouthNet/RéseauAdo

YouthNet/RéseauAdo (YNRA) is a bilingual mental health promotion and intervention program of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Research suggests that youth are much more likely to talk to peers than to adults about mental health. For this reason, YNRA offers support services using a peer-to-peer model. Youth facilitators aged 20 to 30 create an open, non-judgmental space for youth to engage in healthy dialogue about mental health.

YNRA aims to build resilience in young people by demonstrating healthy stress-coping strategies while decreasing the stigma surrounding mental illness and its treatment. Embracing a youth engagement philosophy, YNRA is informed by a Youth Advisory Committee. The committee both develops youth-relevant programming and advocates for youth to service providers, families, policy-makers and systems-level decision makers. This industry-leading youth engagement program benefits young people by giving them the voice they deserve in their own health care.

"YouthNet has changed a lot in my life. For me, it’s a space where I can feel safe and comfortable being myself. It’s also a way for me to contribute to [breaking] mental health stigma." —YouthNet Youth Advisory Committee Member

Youth-adult partnership is key to creating safe, inviting spaces for young people to help one another maintain good mental health.

Youth-adult partnership is key to creating safe, inviting spaces for young people to help one another maintain good mental health.

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