Substance use, mental health top list of concerns for youth, advocate report says

More than half of the youth who participated in a survey by Manitoba’s children’s advocate raised concerns about substance use, mental health and poverty.

The Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth released a report Thursday on last year’s listening tour to raise awareness among Manitoba youth of their rights, as well as gather information on the challenges they face and potential solutions.

More than 1,000 young people attended presentations by the advocate, and 293 youth in 63 different locations participated in 11 focus groups and an online survey.

The report, titled “The Right to Be Heard,” says 55 per cent of youth mentioned substance use, 53 per cent mentioned mental health and wellness and 52 per cent mentioned poverty as challenges young people encounter.

Violence was mentioned by 41 per cent of youth, and racism and discrimination were mentioned by 36 per cent.

The youth who participated in the report also proposed a wide array of potential solutions.

The vast majority (79 per cent) identified a need for more resources for mental health addictions services in Manitoba.

Respondents also wanted more recreation and cultural programs, improved access to sexual health programs, education, affordable housing and public transportation.

Substance use and mental health are the main issues of concern, something the advocate’s office has raised repeatedly with the provincial government since 2018, a news release from the advocate says.

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