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Press Release

New Program Brings Much-needed Mental Health Resources to Youth and Youth-serving Practitioners

Canada NewsWire

~ AstraZeneca's Young Health Program teams up with leading Canadian organizations to aid prevention and early intervention ~

MISSISSAUGA, ON, Nov. 29, 2011 /CNW/ - AstraZeneca Canada Inc., along with its partners, just announced an important community investment initiative called the Young Health Program at an event in London, Ontario. The program is focused on improving the mental health and emotional well-being of vulnerable adolescents. In partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, mindyourmind (a program of Family Service Thames Valley), and Physical and Health Education (PHE) Canada and with the active involvement of youth, the Young Health Program will augment programs and resources for young people and build knowledge and understanding among the practitioners who serve them.

The mental and emotional health and well-being of youth is a serious and underserved Canadian health issue.  At any given time, 15 per cent of our young people are affected by mental health issues, with 80 per cent of all psychiatric disorders emerging in adolescence.

"Prevention and early intervention is absolutely critical in helping youth deal with the emotional and mental health issues they face," says Dr. Bruce Ferguson, Director, Community Health Systems Resources Group, The Hospital for Sick Children. "When significant issues are identified early, most can be resolved effectively. This program aims to help teens before negative feelings or stresses become a concern."

AstraZeneca Canada's Young Health Program will foster emotional and mental health in vulnerable adolescents, ages 10-19. With a focus on prevention and early intervention and delivered in collaboration with partners, the Young Health Program aims to help 50,000 youth move from risk to resilience by connecting them with positive conditions and experiences that enhance emotional and mental health.

AstraZeneca has already begun working with program partners to reach youth where they are - online and on-the-ground - and advocate through networks to build awareness, knowledge and understanding about adolescent mental health. The London announcement showcased an online toolkit for youth and youth serving practitioners developed by mindyourmind and a paper called "Healthy Minds Start Here" produced by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada that outlines the issues and opportunities they see at their Clubs across the country.  To coincide with the event, a meeting of educators from across Canada has been organized by PHE Canada, to discuss the issue of mental and emotional health.

"We believe that all youth deserve to live in a state of well-being that allows them to realize their potential, cope with stress, work productively and contribute to their community," says Pam Jolliffe, President & CEO, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada. "Working together with the Young Health Program, we can support young people to increase their resilience, coping abilities and emotional health."

"We are always looking for unique and creative ways to move Canadian youth from risk to resilience," says Bev Noble, President, Board of Directors, Family Service Thames Valley/mindyourmind. "This effort will help us expand online resources for youth and enhance the capacity of youth-serving professionals to effectively engage and support them."

"Mental health is an important issue that affects all of us, and particularly influences a child's overall healthy development, along with their physical and social development," says Andrea Grantham, Executive Director and CEO of Physical and Health Education Canada. "This collaboration enables us to fulfill an important role to identify and address issues that will ultimately influence good mental health among all students, including those that may be living in crisis situations."

The AstraZeneca Young Health Program is not just a Canadian effort.  Globally, the organization has partnered with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Plan International to address the health of adolescents around the world.  Canada and other countries in which AstraZeneca has a local presence are developing their own Young Health Program initiatives, to reflect the immediate needs of their youth.

"The Young Health Program, together with its valued partners, will directly support young people using tools that resonate with them and channels that appeal to them," says Laura Mably, Vice President, AstraZeneca Canada. "We are excited to be working with these leading Canadian organizations, whose programming will positively impact young people across the country, both now and into the future."

About the Young Health Program
AstraZeneca Canada believes the issue of adolescent emotional well-being provides an important opportunity to make a positive impact on the health of today's youth and tomorrow's generations. Focused on prevention and early intervention, the Young Health Program will help youth move from risk to resilience by connecting them to positive conditions and experiences that foster emotional and mental well-being.

Through partnerships with leading national organizations our goal is to develop and deliver tools and information, "on-the-ground" programs, and on-line resources and connections with youth. Our aim is to help vulnerable adolescents strengthen their emotional resilience, gain the coping skills they need to avoid risk behaviours, discover their own strengths, and reach their full potential in life.

About Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada
Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada is a leading charitable organization providing after school programs that support the healthy physical, educational and social development of 200,000 children, youth and their families each year. In 700 community locations across Canada, Clubs offer access to opportunities, after school and at other times when children are not in school, to develop healthy behaviours, academic success and technology learning, positive relationships and life and leadership skills. Many Clubs also provide nutritious snacks and meals, emergency shelter, family support programs and other support to children, youth and families at risk. Boys and Girls Clubs have been helping young Canadians to discover, develop and achieve their potential, for over 100 years. To learn more, visit

About mindyourmind
mindyourmind is a non-profit mental health program that engages youth, emerging adults and the professionals who serve them to co-develop reliable and relevant resources. These resources are designed to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and increase access and use of community support, both professional and peer-based. Through the use of active engagement, best practice and technology, mindyourmind inspires youth to reach out, get help and give help.

About Physical and Health Education (PHE) Canada
Physical and Health Education Canada is the country's premier professional organization for professionals working in the fields of physical and health education. It is our vision that all children and youth in Canada live healthy, physically active lives. That is why we work with educators and on-the-ground professionals to develop the resources, understanding, and network to ensure that students have the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to lead physically active and healthy lives, now and in their future.

About AstraZeneca
AstraZeneca is committed to the research, development and manufacturing of valuable prescription medicines. We have an extensive product portfolio spanning six therapeutic areas: gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, infection, neuroscience, oncology, and respiratory. AstraZeneca`s headquarters are located in Mississauga, Ontario, and a state-of-the-art drug discovery centre is based in Montreal, Quebec. For more information, please visit the company`s website at



1 Leitch, K. Reaching for the Top: A Report by the Advisor on Healthy Children and Youth (2007)



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