In this issue

  1. Welcome
  2. Cannabis use in teens
  3. In the news – suicide prevention
  4. What we’ve been up to –


Welcome to another edition of the Conversation – a place where we provide information on happenings in the area of youth mental health. We hope you find it useful, and would appreciate hearing from you about what you’d like addressed in future editions.

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Cannabis use in teens

To prepare for Canada’s Oct. 17 cannabis legalization, TeenMentalHealth.Org is educating students, parents, teachers and school-based student care providers about cannabis use in teens. Information and resources can be freely downloaded at

Adolescent years are a crucial period for brain growth, and regular cannabis use can have negative impacts on a teenager’s brain development. After alcohol, cannabis is the most common drug used by Canadian teens and can impair coordination, judgment, problem solving, memory and learning. It can also cause anxiety, panic and psychosis.

The resources were developed by Dr. Stan Kutcher in collaboration with Dr. Phil Tibbo, Nova Scotia Health Authority/Dalhousie University, Dr. Selene Etches, IWK Health Centre and Dr. Rob Milin, University of Ottawa. They will be distributed to schools and youth organizations across Canada in the hopes of providing best available evidence-based information.

If you’re interested in receiving hard copies of our Cannabis Use in Teens poster, please contact [email protected]

In the news: Dal mental health chair pushes for suicide strategy ‘tailored to people’ – The Chronicle Herald

A revamp of Nova Scotia’s suicide-prevention strategy must go beyond a one-size-fits-all approach, a mental health expert says.

“Suicide prevention needs to be tailored to people, also tailored to locations,” Dr. Stan Kutcher said in an interview Thursday. “So that the kind of preventive intervention that say we would do in Inuit populations is not a preventive intervention that we would do in Halifax because the populations look so completely different.”

Kutcher, who is the Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health at Dalhousie University, was responding to concerns about a spike in suicides in Nova Scotia over the past several years. Read more.

What we’ve been up to – Teach Mental Health

To improve mental health literacy nationally in schools, we’ve launched a new online course called Teach Mental Health in partnership with faculties of education from St. Francis Xavier University, Western University and The University of British Columbia.

Educators from across Canada are able to access this free, best evidence-based mental health literacy curriculum resource.

Approximately 70% of mental illnesses start before age 25, and 1 in 5 youth will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Knowing the difference between normal and resilience-building challenges or opportunities that life brings, and the symptoms of a mental illness is an instrumental component of mental health literacy.

Since most Canadian youth attend school, enhancing teacher’s mental health literacy is necessary. However, a recent national scoping exercise found that pre-service teacher education programs rarely address mental health literacy. Teach Mental Health has been developed to address this need.

Those who complete this self-paced (approximately 8 hours) course will receive a professional education certificate from the three partner faculties of education.

Register today at