Although 15% of Canadian youth experience mental health problems, barriers to disclosure and treatment exist. This population-based study assessed adult's beliefs about the prevalence of mental illness among youth, treatment for mental illness, and comfort interacting with youth with moderate mental health problems. In 2010 a random sample of 1203 adults residing in Alberta Canada were surveyed. χ2 Tests and t-tests were used to understand responses by demographic factors. Logistic regression was used to determine factors predictive of Albertans comfort in interacting with youth with moderate mental health problems. Twenty percent were able to correctly identify the prevalence of youth mental health problems. Over 50% stated that they believed that <10% of youth with mental health problems received treatment. Approximately 70% of the sample reported they would be comfortable interacting with youth with moderate mental health problems in work, school, social and community settings. Consistent predictors of comfort interacting with youth with moderate mental health problems included: being between the ages of 18–24, high school completion, Caucasian ethnicity, and annual household income >$40 000/year. There are meaningful gaps in Albertans understanding of the prevalence of youth mental health issues, but the majority of adults would be comfortable interacting with youth with moderate mental health problems. Many respondents identified that youth with mental health problems may not be receiving treatment. Increased public awareness about the prevalence and detrimental impact of youth mental health issues may help policy makers allocate resources to effective screening and treatment for youth with mental health concerns.
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