Promoting Mental Health and Addressing Substance Use in Canadian Youth through Collaborative Research and Intervention

Mental health and substance use (MHSU) challenges are leading health issues facing youth globally. In Canada, 20% of the youth population experiences mental health disorders, and youth aged 15-24 have the highest rates of past year substance use and related harms. To address these concerns, MHSU researchers and advocates argue for a population health approach incorporating promotion, prevention, and treatment within a 'healthy public policy' framework. Yet while much research has focused on the prevention and treatment of youths' MHSU challenges, there has been limited focus on mental health promotion.

Further, while there is growing recognition of the importance of engaging youth in matters that affect their lives, there is a paucity of evidence-based guidance on how to do this effectively. This study contributes to addressing these substantial gaps by exploring how to meaningfully engage youth in the policymaking process to promote MHSU outcomes. Participatory approaches and mixed methods are being used to generate knowledge and inform a framework to guide youth-engaged research and action to better tackle the MHSU needs of Canadian youth.