New Hub at Renison University College focuses on the mental health of children and youth in Canada

Thursday, September 10, 2020

WATERLOO, Ont. (THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2020) – Today, the Minister of Health, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, announced the Government of Canada’s Mental Health Promotion Innovation Fund (the MHP-IF), currently funded at $6.6 million over 2 years. Through the MHP-IF, a new Knowledge Development and Exchange Hub (KDE Hub) will support and amplify the work of 20 diverse projects focused on optimizing mental health and its promotion among young Canadians.

In normal times, many Canadians struggle with mental health issues. But these are not normal times, and the unique challenges we are facing mean more people need help. The projects announced today will help Canadians maintain and improve their mental health, including groups who are disproportionally affected by COVID-19 like Black Canadians and those living in conditions that make them more at risk for mental health issues. -- The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health

The focus of the new Fund on creating conditions for positive mental health and wellbeing early in life is needed now more than ever before, especially with additional pressures on mental health with COVID-19. We know 70% of mental health challenges begin in childhood and adolescence. And recent statistics show early markers of these challenges: 1 in 3 Canadian children and youth report weekly symptoms linked to mental distress, including headaches and stomach aches; more than a third of young people experience discrimination; 27% are often bullied. We also know these challenges are not distributed equally across people and places. A main purpose of the MHP-IF is to strengthen conditions for positive mental health for children, youth and their caregivers. A main role of the KDE Hub is to learn about how to create these supportive conditions, and ensure child and youth mental health promotion in Canada is informed by relevant, credible and timely research.

Mental health promotion is a young field and in high demand. We know there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for all people and places across Canada. We also know we need to apply best available knowledge, and build new knowledge as we go. The KDE Hub is eager to support collective learning that will contribute to better mental health for young Canadians and better public mental health policy and practice in Canada.  -- Dr. Barbara Riley, Scientific Director, KDE Hub

Funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada and hosted by Renison University College, at the University of Waterloo, the KDE Hub is a cross-Canada team, engaging a wide range of disciplines, sectors and experiences. This diversity will best serve the 20 projects of the MHP-IF and the growing child and youth mental health promotion community within Canada and beyond.

Renison University College is proud to host the Knowledge Development and Exchange Hub. The research that is being conducted, communicated and shared through this network is well aligned with the teaching and research being conducted at Renison and will have profound and lasting positive outcomes on mental health and mental health awareness, particularly among our youth. -- Dr. Wendy Fletcher, President and Vice Chancellor, Renison University College

The 20 MHP-IF projects anticipate operating in over 120 locations across 11 provinces and territories. Project teams work with parents, caregivers, families, service providers, children and youth, and educators. Many include work with First Nations, Métis, Inuit, newcomer, refugee, immigrant, LGBTQ2+, and other diverse groups. These projects are among many across Canada that are working to advance early determinants of mental health, and improve health equity and outcomes.

Associated Links

About the Mental Health Promotion Innovation Fund

The Mental Health Promotion Innovation Fund (MHP-IF) is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The MHP-IF is a national program that seeks to learn about promising approaches for advancing mental health promotion among young Canadians, with an emphasis on increasing health equity. The Program aims to improve mental health for individuals and communities where interventions are delivered, to reduce systemic barriers for population mental health in Canada, and to improve Canadian public mental health policy and practice.

About Renison University College

Renison University College was originally founded in 1959 and is proudly affiliated with the University of Waterloo. Renison offers degree programs in social work, the social sciences, languages, humanities, and culture and a wide selection of community education courses. In addition to its academic programming, Renison’s residence serves as home to over 200 students. Find out more about Renison at uwaterloo.ca/renison.

Media Contact:

Barbara Riley, PhD

Scientific Director, KDE Hub

Renison University College and University of Waterloo

briley@uwaterloo.ca; tel: 519-572-9760

Last updated: September 10, 2020, 1:15pm EDT

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