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It takes a family to support children and youth with mental health challenges.

Now more than ever.

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We are building a Canada-wide circle of support that will chart a brighter course for early interventions in child and youth mental health. Together, we will create healthier tomorrows for more kids from coast to coast.

Often families can feel like child and youth mental health challenges need to stay in the family. With the help of the Sobey Foundation, Sobeys Inc. and Canada’s Children’s Hospital Foundations, a family’s circle of support is bigger than they think. Let’s create a new definition of family, one that includes hospital workers, community members, and even your local grocery store – we are all family uniting for child and youth mental health.

Thirteen children’s hospital foundations, together with the Sobey Foundation and 127,000 Sobeys Inc. teammates, have created A Family of Support: Child and Youth Mental Health Initiative - a ground-breaking investment that will help kids while they’re still kids, giving them the best possible chance to thrive.

This network of Children’s Hospital Foundations from coast to coast will implement a diverse range of innovative programs that will improve lives, decrease stigma, strengthen families and help more children and youth access the help they need.

Our Commitment

13 children’s hospital foundations. One vision for early intervention.

Canada’s Children’s Hospital Foundations and its 13-member children’s hospital foundations have reported that one of the greatest challenges to the health and wellbeing of Canadian families from coast to coast is mental health.

  • Mental illness affects more than 1 million children and youth in Canada.
  • 20 percent of Canadian youth are affected by mental illness but only 1 in 5 receive the services they need.
  • Over the last decade there has been a 75 percent increase in children and youth visits to Emergency Departments for mental health conditions.

While there is ample evidence that investments in prevention and early intervention have the greatest potential to reduce the impact of mental illness, resources continue to focus on acute care. This means most children and youth facing mental illness cannot access services until their issues escalate to a crisis.

That’s where A Family of Support: Child and Youth Mental Health Initiative comes in.

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Mental Heath

Between September 17 and October 1, 2020, Canadian grocery shoppers had the opportunity to donate to the A Family of Support: Child and Youth Mental Health Initiative through a fundraising campaign organized by Empire Company Limited, Sobeys Inc. and their associated banner stores across the country. 100 per cent of the funds raised in a community are being directed towards priority child and youth mental health programs at the local children’s hospital.

“When Canadians throw their support behind raising funds and awareness for such an important cause like child and youth mental health, it speaks volumes,” said Mark Hierlihy, CEO of Canada’s Children’s Hospital Foundations. “Regardless of where people live in Canada, children and their families are impacted by mental health. Now more than ever, we must focus the spotlight on this, and how children’s hospitals across Canada are working hard to ensure the right care is delivered at the right place at the right time. Empire and Sobeys Inc. teammates demonstrated incredible commitment and enthusiasm while fundraising in their stores and for customers to donate more than $2 million in such a short time frame shows that Canadians believe in what we are doing to help. On behalf of the 13 children’s hospital foundations across Canada, I want to express our heartfelt thanks.”


A National Initiative With Local Impact

Collectively, the 13 children’s hospitals see over 5,000 children and youth every day. They treat the most critical cases, tend to be a family’s first point of contact with mental health care, and are usually the largest local mental health care provider.

Moreover, 40 per cent of children with a chronic health problem have a concurrent mental health challenge, meaning many referrals to mental health services come from other hospital departments. These mental health departments offer unrivaled care and benefits, including:

  • Being home to world-leading experts
  • Driving research that puts new knowledge and tools in the hands of frontline care providers.
  • Partnering with local communities to build mental health care capacity across the system through education and outreach.
  • Pivotal anchor points for regional telepsychiatry networks that extend into remote communities.

A Family of Support: Child and Mental Health Youth Programs

Each hospital foundation profiled here has identified a critical program that will be made possible through the support of the Sobey Foundation, Sobeys Inc., our 127,000 teammates and our generous customers. Within each program, the children’s hospitals and the communities they support will have the ability to increase care and education through assessments, treatment spaces, people trained, and patients served.

The programs ladder back to our two pillars focused on early interventions:

  1. Care – Right care. Right place. Right Time.
  2. Education & training.

We’ll share real-time milestones, key learnings and successes. We’ll not only measure results, but also the longer-term impacts of the programs that have been carefully identified by mental health leaders and clinicians across all 13 children’s hospitals.

At the highest level, it is our hope that the programs identified to date will decrease the chronic health burden on children and their families, reduce family stress, lower health care and social costs, and improve quality of life and health outcomes–ultimately allowing more children to navigate their mental health challenges and grow into healthy adults.

BC Children’s Hospital Foundation – Supporting Mental Health Care for Kids through Education

BC Children’s Hospital will work to develop and deliver a wide-reaching mental health education strategy to help address gaps in mental health services in British Columbia. This strategy will support the education and training of hospital and community healthcare providers and educators across the province, strengthening capacity and helping to ensure that children and youth receive the timely mental health support they need.

Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation – Advancing and Personalizing Treatments

Inadequate scientific knowledge about pediatric mental health disorders means that many treatments and prevention strategies have not advanced in decades. A new Foundational Discovery Platform will engage hundreds of young people in innovative research aimed at understanding pediatric mental health and improving and creating more effective therapies. By collecting and analyzing crucial data with a 360-degree view of participants, the initiative will inform and optimize care for children and teens across the country.

Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation – Enhancing Urgent Mental Health Services

Donor investments are vital in expanding round-the-clock mental health support to children, youth and families. Stollery will be able to create integrated mental health services within the emergency department, boost 24/7 helpline support, along with a separate walk-in clinic space to increase access to help increase timely access to an expert team of nurses, social workers, therapists, and child and adolescent psychiatrists.

Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation – Creating Safe Environments for Care

Often, the first contact children and families have with mental health services is in a hospital emergency department (ED). The new Children’s Emergency Department at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital provides short-stay crisis care for Saskatchewan children and youth experiencing acute mental health challenges. The hospital will create a new Mental Health Intensive Care Room in the Emergency Department to provide a safe, calming environment for children and youth in crisis.

The Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba – Creating Care that’s Closer to Home

Over the last 20 years, there has been a substantial increase in the number of patients presenting to HSC Winnipeg Children’s Hospital for mental health assessment. About 45% of child and adolescent patients are transported from their rural communities for care, resulting in millions spent on medical transport annually. The hospital will implement a new Urgent Telemental Health Service for children and adolescents in rural Manitoba, bringing care closer to home.

Children’s Health Foundation – Knowing the Signs

Psychosis ranks as the third most disabling condition worldwide. Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre is expanding an early identification and intervention program focused on supporting youth with severe mental health challenges. Support will facilitate more timely detection and proper treatments, significantly reducing the negative risks of early psychosis.

CHEO Foundation – Helping Those at Risk

CHEO will grow their Dialectical Behaviour Therapy program to help adolescents dealing with suicidal ideation, self-injury, family conflict and school problems stemming from difficulties regulating their emotions. By expanding and enhancing services, CHEO will be able to care for more children and families ensuring fewer patients reach a crisis stage.

McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation – Reducing Teen Suicide Together

More Canadian youth die by suicide than the top 10 fatal diseases in this population combined. A new innovative 6-week psychotherapy program focused on improving family communication, reducing conflict, and increasing coping skills has been developed. In the coming months, the effectiveness of this intervention program will be tested at McMaster Children’s Hospital through a multi-site clinical trial in conjunction with SickKids and Alberta Children’s Hospital.

SickKids Foundation – Providing a Success Roadmap

More than 40 percent of children and youth with a physical illness face mental health challenges. To identify potential challenges early, patients with high-risk conditions undergo neuropsychological assessments. SickKids will expand access for this important service, ensuring children and youth don’t miss critical windows of opportunity for early mental health intervention.

The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation – Making Care More Accessible

The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation will invest in improving treatment for two critical mental health issues—obesity and eating disorders. Funding will help build the first Center of Excellence in adolescent severe obesity in Quebec and make treatment more accessible. Funding will also enable an investment in the Children’s unique Family Based Therapy which have proven to be very successful in the treatment of eating disorders.

CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation – Creating Excellent Care

CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation will invest in two mental health initiatives. The first will focus on innovative approaches to safer care for youth with mental health problems—like virtual reality. The second will allow CHU Sainte-Justine to create in-situ meeting rooms, to help supervisors better evaluate and guide training for the next generation of mental health leaders.

IWK Foundation – Partnerships to Transform Care

Many youth experiencing mental illness do not have timely access to high quality evidence based mental health and addictions services. The Learning Link–a physical and virtual space for clients, families and clinicians to work together–will help address these challenges. The Learning Link will serve as a hub of expertise for Nova Scotian and Maritime mental health clinicians and community partners to enhance knowledge and deliver the best clinical care.

Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation – Advocating for the Vulnerable

Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre is partnering with other agencies to establish a much-needed Child & Youth Advocacy Centre. The new centre will support children and youth who have been victims of, or witnesses to abuse, violence and other crimes. Customized services delivered in a safe space will help reduce short- and long-term impacts of the abuse and violence children and youth experience.


If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources that are available.

  1. Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868
  2. Canada Suicide Prevention Helpline (1-833-456-4566)
  3. Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH) 1 800 463-2338)
  4. Crisis Services Canada (1-833-456-4566 or text 45645)

If you need immediate assistance call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.