About Mental Health:

What is mental health?

Mental health is not just the absence of mental illness. It is a balanced state of well-being in all aspects of life: social, physical, spiritual, economic and mental. Mental health enables us to form loving relationships, feel and express a range of emotions, and regulate our behaviour. It empowers us to develop our strengths, learn from our mistakes, solve problems, cope with stress, bounce back from hard times, and feel optimistic about the future.

What is a mental health challenge?

Mental health challenges are struggles with feelings, relationships or behaviour that have a significant, negative impact on a person’s daily functioning at home, at school, at work or in the community.

1 in 5 young people will have a mental health challenge. The most common challenges in children and youth are anxiety, depression, difficult behaviours (e.g. defiance; bullying), Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.

Signs of a mental health challenge

Many children and youth exhibit the following characteristics and behaviours from time to time during normal development:
  • getting significantly lower marks in school
  • avoiding friends and family
  • having frequent outbursts of anger
  • losing her/his appetite
  • having difficulty sleeping
  • rebelling against authority
  • drinking and/or using drugs
  • not doing things he/she used to enjoy
  • damaging property
  • worrying constantly
  • experiencing frequent mood swings
  • not concerned with her/his appearance
  • obsessed with her/his weight
  • lacking energy or motivation
  • hitting or bullying other children
  • attempting to injure himself/herself.

However, if these characteristics or behaviours are intense, long-lasting, inappropriate for the child’s age, or interfering with the child's life, they may be signs of a mental health need.

What causes mental health challenges?

Mental health challenges can happen at any age and in any group of society. The causes are varied and complex. Some factors that contribute to mental health challenges are:
  • heredity/biology (e.g. a chemical imbalance in the brain)
  • negative life experiences (e.g. loss of a loved one; abuse)
  • social circumstances (e.g. financial, school or family stress)
  • individual characteristics (e.g. low self-esteem; way of thinking).

How do I get help?

If your child has mental health needs, it is very important to get help. Without treatment, children/youth in distress can turn to drugs and alcohol, drop out of school, hurt themselves or others, withdraw into silence and isolation, or become suicidal. The good news is that treatment works, leading to better outcomes and happier lives.

WhereToStart.ca: Access to Mental Health Services for Children and Youth provides coordinated access to mental health services for children and youth who live in Brampton, Caledon or Mississauga. Parents, service providers and youth over age 12 can call 905-451-4655.

When you call, an intake worker will schedule a telephone interview to figure out which service is best suited to the child’s or youth’s needs. You will be referred to one of six agencies: Associated Youth Services of Peel; Nexus Youth Services; Peel Children’s Centre; Rapport Youth and Family Services; Trillium Health Partners – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services; or William Osler Health System – Mental Health Services for Children and Adolescents.

If a child/youth under age 18 is having a mental health crisis, Peel Children’s Centre operates a Crisis Response Service. Parents, children or youth can call 416-410-8615 to get help.

There is no charge for the child and youth mental health services that we provide. While there are wait lists for some services, we help while you are waiting with walk-in and short-term counselling, group programs, crisis response, and services at early learning and childcare centres.

Any child, regardless of age or circumstance, can develop a mental health challenge. If this should happen, please call us. Mental health treatment gives children, youth and their families hope for a bright future.

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