Supporting Children and Youth

smaller image of child reading book

Supporting Children and Youth

Mental health disorders often start earlier than you might expect. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 1 in 5 children and youth in Ontario have a mental health challenge. It is estimated that 70% of mental health challenges onset between ages 11-25. Fifty percent children with mental concerns experienced them before age 18.

Childhood and adolescents are often perceived as fun and carefree times, however many children and youth face grown-up problems such as the death of a loved one, physical or emotional violence at home, bullying at school or online, lack of basic necessities, gender identity issues, racism, social pressures, anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns.

Mental health affects the way people think, feel and act. Supporting your child's mental health is just as important as supporting their physical health. Early identification and intervention is critical and can lead to improved achievement in school and better health outcomes in life.

As a parent or guardian, you play an important role in your child's or teen's mental health. The two most important things you can do are:

  • Be a positive mental health role model - promote good mental health by the things you say and do, as well as through the environment you create.
  • Increase your mental health literacy - learn about the early signs of mental health problems and know where to go for help. Many people think and say things like, "kids are resilient".  While young people do have amazing resilience, there is a risk of underestimating the impact that different experiences have on them. As resilient as kids and youth are, they also benefit from support and early interventions.

The Employee and Family Assistance Program Has Resources for Kids!

The Employee and Family Assistance Program, delivered through Homewood Health Inc., provides employees of the University of Waterloo and their dependent family members with a range of health and wellness services. The program is a complement to the current benefits program, at no additional cost to employees.

Homewood Health offers short-term, confidential counselling that includes face-to-face (flexible hours), telephone or online sessions for a variety of needs. The program also includes Life Smart Coaching and other online services including e-learning sessions and resource location services. Your private information, including whether you or your dependents have accessed the program, is never shared with family members or the University. Find out more about Homewood Health's services.

What to expect when you contact Homewood

You can contact Homewood Health directly by calling the phone numbers below, or visiting their website.

  • 1.800.663.1142 (English)
  • 1.866.398.9505 (French)
  • 1.888.384.1152 (TTY)
  • 604-689-1717 International (call collect)

When you call, you or your family member will be connected with an Intake Coordinator. Homewood offers many services for a variety of issues in situations. In order to connect you with the best counsellor or coach for you and your situation, the Intake Coordinator will ask you a number of questions.

For more information on how to support mental health in children and youth, how to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, and where to find help, please see the resources below.