Leaving the Nest: Differences in mental health among Canadian youth who live with their parents and those who live independently


Mental illness affects approximately 20% of all Canadians (Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2013a). Although it can be effectively treated, a majority of youth with a mental illness do not receive treatment. While age has been used to examine differences in mental illness factors, the role of living in the parental home has received little attention. Using the intersection of ecological systems theory and the life course perspective (Bronfenbrenner, 1995; Elder, 1998; Hicks, 2007; Policy Research Initiative, 2004), I examine how living in the parental home relates to presence of mental illness, perceived need, and the use of mental health services. Analyzing data from the Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health (2012), multivariate logistic regressions on a sample of about 6,000 respondents, age 15 to 29, were used to examine the differential impacts of family and demographic characteristics. Results suggest that living arrangements impact perceived need for mental health services among youth. Youth who live with their parents are more likely to perceive a need for mental health services than those who have ‘left the nest’.


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