Creating Supportive Environments for Children and Youth with Complex Needs


Creating Supportive Environments for Children and Youth with Complex Needs

5 years ago 5 years ago Published by Leave your thoughts
This report was published by the Children and Youth In Challenging Contexts Network.


Mental health is a primary concern among Canadian children and youth. 14 to 25 per cent of children and youth are estimated to experience mental health issues, and 70% of adults with mental health issues are believed to have developed symptoms during early childhood or adolescence. Many children and youth have ‘complex needs’ with multi-dimensional problems that require complex intervention strategies – there is no one-size-fits all solution.

CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research defines children with complex needs as ‘children with multiple health/developmental needs that require multiple services from multiple sectors, in multiple locations’. These children and youth lack sufficient mental health care and other social support services in Canada. This is a result of a number of factors including family dynamics, fragmentation of services, stigma, lack of adequate resources, and shortage of mental health professionals .

The problem is even worse among marginalized groups, including immigrant and Aboriginal youth, who have unique complexities associated with their mental well-being and social marginalization. Studies have connected the failure to adequately provide a caring environment for children and youth living with mental illness to other complex physical, mental, and social issues, including homelessness and suicide.

CYCC Network (2014). Promising practices for violence prevention to help children in disasters and complex emergencies. Retrieved from

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