OKN’s Indigenous Reconciliation initiative considers Truth and Reconciliation as two distinct entities, as illustrated above. Learn more about this graphic in our Indigenous Reconciliation Strategy.

Children spend a great deal of their first 8 years learning in schools, thus, how schools connect to their community is important. Progress in this area will show good connections between schools, parents, community resources and the local neighbourhood.

  • Parental involvement in schools
  • Youth as resources
  • Volunteerism
  • Community use of schools
Children thrive in neighbourhoods that are safe and connected. Neighbourhoods that can meet all of our needs are valued.

  • Neighbourhood safety
  • Neighbourhood cohesion
  • Walkability
  • Caring for the community
Safe environments benefit children by providing a sense of personal security that allows them to take maximum advantage of learning, playing and making new friendships.

  • Child care capacity
  • Quality child care
  • Parenting capacity
  • Parental monitoring
  • Quality time at home with family
Safe environments benefit children by providing a sense of personal security that allows them to take maximum advantage of learning, playing and making new friendships.

  • Serious injury
  • At-risk behaviours
  • Safety from harm
All children need positive connections to their parents/caregivers, peers, school and community.

  • Supportive and caring environments
  • Boundaries and expectations
  • Commitment to learning
  • Positive values
  • Social competencies

Learning is one of the cornerstones for success in life and starts at birth. Community progress for this result will show that children are learning both in their preschool and school years.

  • Preschool learning opportunities
  • Student achievement (EQAO)
  • Healthy body weight
  • School engagement

Good health is a prerequisite for positive outcomes for children and youth. Both physical and emotional health are valued in this result. In addition, given the critical brain development that takes place in the first 12 months of life, infant health is closely monitored.

  • At-risk births
  • Healthy eating
  • Healthy body weight
  • Physical activity
  • Mental health

Story Behind The Numbers

Halton Youth Impact Survey Results

What is the state of youth mental health in Halton and what can be done to improve the mental health of young people?

A bunch of students walk together with colorful backpacks on their back

Findings reflect the responses of 1915 youth in the 13 to 18 age range.

The Story Behind the Numbers

Qualitative data highlights the importance of mental health and emotional wellbeing to youth, a theme selected by participants at the Youth Data Party. Out of 361 open comments at the end of the HYIS, 84 (23%) were about mental health.
Stories behind the data

Youth on their mental health and the impact of COVID-19

Youth at the Data Party described good mental health as feeling relaxed or going to bed without a thousand thoughts racing through their minds. The topic of constant stress and pressure was also discussed. In the open comment section of the survey, participants described feeling overwhelmed with the amount of schoolwork and changes to their school schedules. Many wanted things to go back to normal (no pandemic related restrictions) or wanted to practice sports again.

Reopen schools and make mental health services accessible to all, regardless of income. Learning online is so stressful and isolating.

Youth on mental health awareness

Awareness could be an issue in terms of access to services. Some of the suggestions offered by participants that are described below, already exist in Halton (e.g., youth can access mental health supports on their own confidentially and anonymously, and services can be accessed without fees).  Youth that had positive experiences with certain programs wanted others to know that there were professionals willing to listen and help.

Young people preferred to seek care and support on their own. Opt-in mental health check-ins or attentive adults would be helpful in increasing their awareness and connecting them to services sooner. Youth commented on the importance of their peers learning about the services available to them, as well as being able to communicate with their parents and community about mental health. Youth emphasized the need to decrease the perceived mental health stigma, which they saw as a key barrier to them seeking support. As one young person said:

The first step is to normalize speaking about your mental health. It should be equivalent to talking about a headache.

Youth on access to mental health services

Youth want improved access to mental health services. Some commented that they had not found the support they needed, while others were still searching for treatment. One mother expressed that she wanted to find a free therapist for her child, a young person told their story of sharing with their doctor and leaving without any guidance or referral.

27% of youth who highlighted the need for better access to mental health services, regarded mental health services fees as a barrier. Other youth described frustration with waitlists for free services, while others hoped they would access services on their own or in a way that ensures confidentiality. Completely anonymous services or services delivered through text messages were cited as important by some participants.

Make sure that everyone can get the help they need, both mental and physical.

Youth on schools and mental health

In schools, difficulties with class schedules and alternating between in-person and online learning were highlighted. Teaching strategies to cope with stress was welcomed by some and criticized by others who did not see enough need for it. Despite conflicting opinions on mental health content taught in school, youth included schools as allies and part of the solution.

Youth hoped that schools would help connect young people to mental health services and become partners in increasing awareness and mitigating stigma. Participants envisioned schools educating communities and parents on mental health, creating conditions supportive of their emotional wellbeing, and promoting optional mental health check-ins. One participant at the Youth Data Party mentioned a teatime club in their previous school that was very impactful and supportive to youth.

At one of my old schools, there was a Teatime club, where people drank tea and ate food. They then talked about whatever was on their mind. It was amazing.


  • These findings cover only responses of youth in the 13-18 age range
  • Open invitation sampling strategy (non-probabilistic)
    • Sample is not necessarily representative of all children and youth living in Halton.
    • It is not possible to determine a response rate.
    • However, considering the geographic coverage and the size of the final sample, it’s fair to assume that we have a reasonably good cross-section of children and youth living in Halton.
  • A higher degree of diversity within this sample calls for caution when interpreting overall ratios. For more details on the composition of the sample see the sociodemographic table
  • The data are meant to provide a snapshot of youth wellbeing during COVID, and caution should be used when comparing across time.
  • While each indicator is important, using multiple indicators as evidence of strengths and needs provides a more comprehensive representation
  • This is a self-report survey and several types of response bias have been identified related to self-report surveys. Use caution when interpreting the findings
OKN organization graphic