In 2012, 12 per cent of youth and young adults reported they’d seen or phoned a health professional about emotional, mental or substance use problems and more than twice as many, 27 per cent, turned to informal sources such as family and friends for such problems.
“Youth are well known to have high rates of mental health problems, but are often faced with challenges in terms of getting help for these problems, so we really wanted to investigate youth specifically,” said report author Leanne Findlay, an analyst with Statistics Canada in Ottawa.
About half of young Canadians with mental health conditions, such as depression or generalized anxiety disorder, and a quarter of those with a substance use disorder reported using professional services.
A family doctor or general practitioner was the most commonly consulted health professional, reported by six per cent. Of those who did, Findlay said, it averaged six times in the previous year for 23 minutes per consultation.
Social workers, counsellors or psychotherapists were consulted an average of 15 times, with sessions averaging 49 minutes.
In terms of informal support, 20 per cent of young Canadians talked to a friend and 14 per cent turned to a family member.
“Mental health is an important component of internet health information for youth, but the quality of that information is unregulated. Consequently, e-health literacy — the ability to use, evaluate and apply internet health information — is important for young Canadians,” Findlay and co-author Adam Sunderland wrote.
“It’s not just having a mental health disorder, but if you have the combination of a mental health disorder plus another risk factor, you’re even more likely to reach out for services or to obtain services, both professional services and informal,” Findlay said.