Priority two: Create wait time targets for youth mental health and address the silos in care between the child and adult systems.

Long wait times and inadequate access to youth mental health services are dangerous for Canada’s young people.

Access to mental health services is a rising issue across the country, particularly among Canada’s young people. Our health care system is struggling to meet demand.

As a result wait times for mental health services has become a top barrier according to youth. Some of which wait up to a year before they receive any sort of care.

Furthermore, over the last few years, youth have informed us of the gaps they encounter when transition from the child health system to the adult system. These gaps are felt more drastically depending on where the young person is accessing care, but there is a clear need for fewer silos and a clear path from the child to adult system.

Without timely access to appropriate mental health services where they live, young people will continue to fall through the cracks. As a result of the wait times and silos that exist, conditions worsen and are more likely to lead to crisis. We can no longer ignore the consequences that come with youth not being able to access appropriate services.

What Canadian youth need in order to increase access to high-quality, youth centric mental health services:

  • Wait time targets for access to youth mental health services across the country, established by the Federal, Provincial and Territorial governments, and fewer silos between the child and adult health systems.


“Youth mental health doesn’t have a 9-5-time limit, but most drop-in centers do”
–Focus Group Participant

“At 18 you are transferred to the adult section. It took 4 months to move a file from downstairs in the hospital to the upstairs adult section…”
–Focus Group Participant

“One of my best friends was suicidal and in serious need of mental health care so we went to the hospital to get help, but then she needed to wait months before she could see a psychiatrist..”
–Focus Group Participant