Forward: The Health of Canada's Young People: a mental health focus


I am pleased to present the Canadian report on the 2009/10 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study, The Health of Canada's Young People: a mental health focus.

The Canadian HBSC report is part of the World Health Organization's collaborative cross-national study that we have been part of for more than 20 years. This research greatly increases our understanding of young people's health, but also guides health education and health promotion policy and programs in Canada and in the more than 40 countries participating in the study.

The health of our young people is one of Canada's great assets. While most young Canadians experience good health, the transition to adolescence can present challenges as they encounter the social, biological and psychological changes that come with growing up. At the Public Health Agency of Canada, through science and research like the HBSC study, we enhance our knowledge of the determinants of health that contribute to maintaining health and preventing disease as well as injury. The HBSC is of particular interest because it looks at the health of young people in the broadest sense and their social contexts, such as the home, school, community, and peers.

The 2009/2010 Canadian HBSC report focuses on mental health. The report recognizes the importance of mental health and wellness in young people's lives and explores the many facets of emotional and mental health that link to physical health and the various social settings of Canadian youth. For the first time, the Canadian study sought the views of young people on the report findings. Their perspectives have added another rich dimension to our understanding of the health issues facing this age group.

The Canadian HBSC findings will be used by a variety of researchers and stakeholders, and will help build well-grounded policy and program initiatives. The Canadian report becomes a unique data source comparable with other developed countries involved in the HBSC study. It also supports the Agency's ability to promote the health of Canadian youth.

I want to personally thank the school administrators and teachers across Canada who helped to conduct the survey in schools, and the over 26,000 young Canadians who shared their perceptions and experiences.

Dr. David Butler-Jones
Chief Public Health Officer
Public Health Agency of Canada

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